Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writer Wednesdays: Borrow a Plot!

So here goes part two of my new series of writing tips. Let's continue the conversation about how you over come a dry period and make a get a first draft out. This weeks tip is a seemingly crazy tip from a great playwright that I had the privilege to meet through my grad program at Hollins University. Mac Wellman is a great playwright with a wisdom beyond most of us academics and the gift of getting to the nitty gritty in conversation. Here are two tips that he offered to me and my colleagues at a workshop.

Borrow someone else's plot: Think back to your favorite play that you've ever read and seen. Now try to rewrite that entire play by memory.  In the process you'll get situations wrong and forget character's names and lines and that's not the point. In the process of trying to write that play you'll find that you've started to write your own original play. The reason? We all hear and interpret things differently. We won't be rewriting someone's play word for word we'll be telling a story similar to that one the way we heard it flavored by our own experiences, prejudices, likes, and filters.

Maybe you're finished: If you're in the process of working on a draft and can't go any further look at what you've written. Maybe you're brain's trying to tell you that you're finished and you haven't realized it yet. Look over the story again and you might see that you've written the ending to a great story that you've never written the beginning to.  Look at it through that light and see what happens to you.

Have fun writing you guys!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

End it Update: International Justice Mission

Today we're going to be talking about yet another organization out there that works to end human trafficking for good. Today we're talking about the International Justice Mission, an organization that works all over the world to advocate laws and legislation that spots and ends human trafficking, rescues the victims, and puts the people responsible behind bars. So let's talk about a couple of the things that these good people do.

IJM works with governments in the world with developing legal systems to intervene in trafficking and slavery cases, provides a structure to protect at-risk populations, and make their local governments respond to trafficking and slavery in professional and effective manner.

My favorite thing that they do is ensure perpetrator accountability. Imagine that you lived in a country that wasn't as fortunate as we are in the United States and that no one was prosecuted for committing horrible crimes of injustice. Imagine that the police in your area weren't well equipped or trained to bring the perpetrators to justice and build cases airtight enough to keep them in jail. We live in a country where these things are a given. When someone breaks the law here we expect them to be arrested, prosecuted, and put them in jail for a long time. It's a system that has worked for over two hundred years and we take it for granted everyday!

IJM works in places where this hasn't always been a certainty. They work in places with legal systems that have been recently established to give them the tools to establish justice in their communities and to advance justice in the world! They have operations in Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Rwanda, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and South Asia.

If you want to learn more about how you can advance the cause of IJM, give funds, or look up career opportunities look at their website right here!  You can also be a part of their Stand for Freedom on March 5-15 to raise awareness and funds for the cause! My hat's off to everyone at IJM! God Bless and keep working for the cause!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ruby Red Love V-Day Giveaway!

Ruby Red Love Jewelry
Hosted by Diary of a Determined Momma & The Bloggers Cupcake Cafe
Most people have a dream in their head of the perfect way to spend Valentine's Day. There's just the right person to spend it with, at just the right place, with just the right weather, just the right food, and the perfect presents to top it all off.
I know that my perfect Valentine's Day is a quiet dinner at home with food that I made myself with my favorite lady across from me and seeing her gorgeous smile!
While the best part of this holiday is usually just who you spend it with, some of us from the Bloggers Cupcake Cafe have decided to get together and make the present part a little easier on one lucky reader this year. We're going to give someone a beautiful ruby necklace just in time for Valentine's Day!
trillion cut ruby
The entry methods below are simple. We want to bring you great content including more giveaways, DIY Projects, Recipes, and humor right to your inbox or RSS reader. Let's connect! The giveaway will run through February 6, 2012 at 11:59PM EST. Use the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Life With Tourettes: Facing the Music

Hello my name is Ricky Young and I am addicted to making music. Ever since I was little I've always been ring to make music some way. And I was never just trying to buy my own instruments... I was usually too broke... no I was always trying to make my own instruments.  My parents were always pulling their hair out when I would come home and tell them that I found a new idea to explore. When I found Stomp I was banging on my trash can for four weeks. When I discovered jug band music I tried to buy a washboard and blew into a milk jug trying to get some sound out.

But it my love of music comes more from a sense of rebellion than anything else. For years I tried to pick up the piano, guitar, and other instruments. But every time I tried my Tourettes would get in the way. I'd keep hitting this brick wall where I couldn't get my hands doing two things at the same time. I would save up so much money to buy a new instrument at the pawn shop and then fail hopelessly at trying to get it. I would read every music theory book I could find and I could tell you most of the academic parts of the music. But I couldn't get my fingers to do the job that everyone else could.

But then I found blues and jazz. I believe that different styles of music are little Rosetta Stones. When someone finds the right style of music it almost becomes as if they've been playing it their entire life. It started with the harmonica. The minute I first started to try some licks out on it it seemed like I was speaking a language that I had forgotten for so long. And listening to jazz unlocks my Tourettes and purges me of so much bad energy.

Now I make my own string instruments and play cigar box guitar and five-string guitar. I can even play some blues piano. I've performed in front of people and am even trying to find ways to put my music into my performances and art. I never took a lesson playing blues or my blue instruments other than watching some youtube videos. Blues is musical Tourettes. I just let it loose on the fret board and it goes crazy. Ever since then music has been my only way to soothe the savage beast inside.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Writer Wednesdays: Just get out and write!

One of the biggest excuses that I get from fellow writers is that it's so hard start writing a new play/book/song. After a brief period of writer's block myself I've found myself making the same lousy excuse. I recently got started on a new project and feel revitalized. So I decided to offer some tips for all those writers out there that are having trouble getting a draft out of the brain and onto the paper.

Steal a Draft: And no I don't mean go off and steal someone else's work. But if you need to steal someone else's words that's fine. For my latest draft I took a stack of Reader's Digests and made a script writing random sentences for each character's line. At the end of the exercise I had a bunch of random thoughts and gibberish, but I had a good story idea and my juices were perked up. I'm on the second rewrite on paper and soon will be ready to type it out. All from borrowing someone else's words!

The point of writing a draft is so that you have a stack of paper about an inch thick. And you're going to rewrite it several times anyway! So don't worry about being good. You're draft will be changed a million times through rewrites. You just have to get to that stage.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Theatre Rant: Becoming the "Evil Corporation"

So a while ago on the blog you saw me talking about what I call "The Walmartization of the Theatre Industry". If you didn't read the article it was about this perceived notion that all theatre and art is created in these little hubs like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc. and that all that the other regional theatres are just little affiliates for the work created there. So little original work is being sponsored or local artists being hired that people feel that they have to move from their respective towns and go to the big cities to get work. And what does that do to the artistic industries of the communities that are there?

But I feel that a lot of people felt that I was attacking those cities that became centers for the arts. I have lots of friends and colleagues that work in the New York and Chicago worlds. In all fairness it's just a little bit easier to be a starving artist in the bigger cities than anywhere else. You may even be able to upgrade to only semi-starving in a few years. But you get valuable connections other artists and help people make it easier. No what I really wanted to highlight was that instead of moving away and playing by their rules why don't we all recognize the times that we're in and find out that we can be our own "evil corporations".

With the power of the internet and modern technology there are plenty of ways that artists can get their names and product out there. Want people to see your body of acting work? Put an acting reel up on youtube and put your resume out there on a personal website. Are you a playwright that just can't get published? There are several binding and printing machines out there to get you a really good bound play. Or follow the Charles Mee format and publish all of your plays online in your own website. Showcase your design work and portfolio. Make prints of your designs and sell t-shirts.

Whether you want to get yourself hired or get your work out there look for ways that you can get your work out there WHERE YOU ARE! How can you be an entrepreneur and fund yourself and your art without trudging the path that everyone's going down. Get yourself out there and get people talking about you! That's where the business lies!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Life With Tourettes: But Life is Fine!

In the past few weeks as I've been blogging about my life with Tourettes I've been blogging a lot about the hardships, about the negative things that marked my life for a long time getting to where I am. And yes I have had my struggles and there are still some obstacles that I face. But I found that if I only dwell on the bad things then you don't get an accurate view of my life. It's cleansing to purge the bad stories but I also want to offer some hope.

When people often ask me what Tourettes is most like I tell them that it's a lifestyle that you have to grow into. It's a way of thinking and living, you can't change it but when you learn to live with it then you actually start living.

Or you can call it inner-tubing down a stream. If you try going up the stream you'll go nowhere. But if you allow it to sweep you along you'll find that you'll end up where you wanted to be anyway.

The important thing is to stop thinking that your life is over just because you have this Constant Companion that you share a body with. You have to live with some stares and a little bit of ridicule but when you just "embrace the chaos" you'll come out with something very few people have. Actual maturity and empathy.

To all of you people out there who may be struggling just know that life isn't always rough. You and Tourettes are going to be having a love hate relationship for awhile. But I promise that it does get better after all. And I promise that in future posts I'll let you see that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

End It Movement Update: Shine A light on Slavery Day

I said a while back that Fronkensteen had joined the End It Movement. A global movement where young adults raise awareness and promote advocacy to the blight of slavery in the world today.

There are over 27 million people in in slavery all over the world and EVERYONE needs to get motivated to try to stamp it out. So every week until Shine A Light on Slavery Day April 9th I'll be posting a new update on the movement, stats on slavery and human trafficking, and what Fronkensteen is doing to join the movement.

Here is a video of Gary Haugen, the head of International Justice Mission talks to the young adults at the 2013 Passion Conference about human trafficking and his organizations work to End It.

This video was posted by Shannon Lemonds. I don't own or hold any rights to it. If this video moves you to do something about the staggering foothold slavery has in this world please check out the sites for The End It Movement and International Justice Mission and see how you can get involved. And check in every week at the Lounge to see what we're doing to End It!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Little Addition to the New Little Theatre Movement

So earlier in the month I posted about what the New Little Theatre Movement should look like. And while this country is desperately in need of a new movement I thought that there could be a few more additions to my previous wish list. This is still an aesthetic that I'm still trying to tweak and perfect for my own art so there may be several posts later on where I revise and edit my new theories.

This is how the face of the theatre industry is changed, by theatre artists creating new formats and ways of doing things in the face of a changing society. Shakespeare's Globe doesn't work as a widespread business model anymore so we don't do it. And the models that we create today won't last for our grandchildren. If you don't invest in new forms and experimentation and theories then you're really investing in a museum. And this world doesn't need more museum theatre.

So here's my additions to the list of what I want in a New Theatre Movement. Here we go.

  • Invest in Residencies and Apprentices not Auditions and Submissions: The era where you work with one theater for one month and move on for the next works for some. But unless we can start letting all artists know that we can support them they cannot be expected to grow. A young artist won't grow or start developing his artistic style or vision if he's afraid of where he's going to live or what he's going to eat while he does it. 
  • Treat Theatre more Like Blogging: In today's world you have to have a huge resume and some awards before anyone wants anything to do with you. You have to have an audition just to learn about theatre. But in the blogging world anyone can start a blog...anyone can try one out and decide whether they like it or not and then reach out to the blogging community to learn more and get better. Through open mic style events like No Shame and more medium sized opportunities like Ten Minute Play Festivals and Fringes a fledgling artist can gain confidence through experience and be attached to a mentor for more hands on training. 
  • Encourage Splinter Groups: While new artists are cutting their teeth on the art they're going to be a valuable asset to the company. When they grow up under your tutelage they're going to have their own dreams and goals and try to work with other groups or continue their education at a university. Encourage them to go out and start their own company or career and let them know that they always have a home with you. 
  • Mix the Arts Up: This past Wednesday I performed and hosted a Talent Show at my church. There were dancers, musicians, comedians, and gymnasts, even gallery showings from on of our resident painters. The audience didn't care that we were mixing things up they just enjoyed a good show. Most performing artists have all the same business problems and the first on their list is they need places to perform and an audience to be there. Mix up with other groups and keep your stage open to artists from all the arts. A bigger arts community all around is beneficial to everyone!
So what new formats of the arts are you seeing out there? Are there any new "movements" forming out there? Be sure to leave me a comment below.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Life with Tourettes in the Theatre Chapter 5

"Noises" off.

I got into theatre at what I call a "late" age. I was in highschool and fell in love with the theatre from the first show that our drama club did. After that I wanted to be in that room as many times as possible. I didn't care what I was doing I volunteered for it all. I helped build sets, I ushered, I took tickets, I tried to do everything that I could to help out. I even auditioned for just about every show that they did, even if I knew that I had no chance of getting a part. For some reason I loved the theatre from the get-go as a place where magic was being created. I was just happy sweeping floors watching the people work onstage. There was something special about "magic in rehearsal".

It was after a few times working backstage that I got what I thought was the "dream job", handing out the props backstage. I worked both sides of the stage, when an actor got off the stage and needed a prop for their next scene I was already there ready to hand it off to them. I loved it! It was perfect for my OCD as I organized every little thing, made a place for every prop on my table and planned every movement to be faster. The actors loved me for being fast and unintrusive while they were concentrating. Also it was the first place where my Tourettes went virtually unnoticed. Theatre people are by nature weirdos and so one extra one hanging around wasn't such a big deal. For once I felt like I was a part of something. I had friends for the first time and I was doing something that I really loved.

Until the dreadful day arrived. We were just finished with a show and we were cleaning up when the director, our theatre teacher, walked up to me. She told me that she was very sorry that it had to be this way but that my Tourettes was able to be heard from the audience and that because of that I was going to have to be replaced. I was moved to a different job and two people had to replace me. I went home and cried for the entire weekend. I was so stoked at being involved in the theatre and and it devastated it that my disability kept me from doing it. I was summarily banned from the backstage after that. I was exiled to being an usher and while I got to act onstage once I was told that if my Tourettes got in the way I was going to be replaced again. My teacher even went further to say that my disability would keep me from doing anything in the theatre and that I shouldn't bother studying it to college.

This really hurt me. And it took me forever to get over the debilitating words of one teacher that I really admired and respected her opinion. I eventually got back behind the stage in college and eventually got on the stage again as an actor. But it took FOREVER for me to get the confidence back. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fronkensteen Joins the End It Movement

So last week I joined sixty thousand other young adults at the Passion Conference in Atlanta's Georgia Dome it was a great time of music, celebration, and talks about human trafficking in the modern day and biblical topics. All told all of those "broke" college students raised over THREE MILION dollars to fund several organizations that work to prevent modern day slavery, rescue it's victims, and prosecute the offenders.

 To think that all of us could be a part of history in the making, enough to get the attention of CNN and the White House. Was such a great feeling. And then I learned that part of the money that we donated was going to fund a grassroots movement all over the world called the End It Movement. Over the entire summer college students on campuses all over the world and several organizations will be working non stop to raise awareness to the plight of the 27 million slaves in bondage all over the world. And the folks at the End it Movement are asking any organization or individual to help in any way that they can, especially with their big event on April 9th called "Shine A Light on Slavery Day".

So Fronkensteen is throwing it's hat into the ring. We're already working on planning an event of our own on April Ninth and you'll be seeing special blog posts dedicated to the movement as we try to make you aware of this ongoing problem.

 Doing a pretty show is great. But doing a show that will impact the world in a unique way is one of the greatest things you can do in this world. I beg each of you guys to go to the website and the websites of the movement's partners and see what you can do to raise awareness yourself. And be sure to join with Fronkensteen on the blog, social media, or in person at our event. Together we can be a force for good in this world!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Easy Ways to get into Producing

So part of New Years Resolution was to get into producing. I first got into it out of necessity when I was directing my own work and or directing someone else's. I found out that I loved it. I always loved being an entrepreneur and taking charge of y own business and finances. But after a few little failures running my own company I started to lose my confidence a bit. But this was the year that I knew I had to pick myself up and do it again. Because the bitter reality is no shows=no money. Even when you're trying to develop a new format due to the changing times there is only so much theoretical work that you can do. You have to get out there and start experimenting and that's all the Fronkensteen is about!

So here are a couple of ideas that I had that could get me just starting out in the world of producing. They're not the fast track to becoming the next George Lucas, Spielberg, or Devlin but they'll get me into the feel of everything and also get a little money coming in. Even a trickle is good.

  • Host Talent Shows/Open Mic Nights: I'm actually MCing one of these tonight at my church. These are great because you get to make connections with a lot of new talent and make new friends. I was also thinking about starting up a No Shame (a special format or "franchise" for open mic nights) in my own town. 
  • Host Art/Theatre Parties: What is a producer but someone hosting a big party. These don't take a whole lot of commitment except for one night and you can turn it into a benefit for your favorite charity or cause. Get all of your friends and work your contacts and get everyone doing something. 
  • Contact Existing Groups: There are several organizations in my area that already do shows and benefits/fundraisers and they always need help. If I have a few skills or resources that can help them have a better event maybe I can barter a production credit for helping them out. Theatre and art should be building community anyway. It's something that we've forgotten over time.
  • Reach out to Independent Film Companies: There are some theatre people that will hate me for what I'm about to say... Theatre and Film need to have closer ties. They're two separate art forms but they share actor and talent pools and resources. If I can do my best to help them out and get them better connections or do better work then that's getting my name out there and getting me a good reputation. Even just volunteering for a walk on role or filling a need is great. 
Like I said these things aren't going to make you me a big time producer overnight. But they will help me get the confidence and get my name out there. I really just need that adrenaline rush to get me pumped and ready to take on even more.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Life with Tourettes in the Theatre Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Learning to Walk Again

The most debilitating thing about Tourettes is when it affects you. When you reach puberty you've basically just figured out how the "world" works. You think that you get it and then you're body starts going through changes. They break you out of the little cave of adolescence that you made for yourself and put you into this who brave little world. I was first diagnosed before puberty struck but not by very much. Imagine it. You're still undergoing the same life altering changes that all of the other kids are going through but now you have the equivalent of a bad roommate in your brain. When you want to move left it wants to move right. When you want to say the right thing to the pretty girl it wants to make weird faces and loud noises. It wants to be loud when you want to be quiet. It wants to move when you want to be still. 

A lot of times I say it's like being hacked. You have moments when life seems normal and then all of a sudden you move on your own. Your body is taken away from you and starts to do the work of the bad roommate. So what you have to do over the course of you life is "re-learn" how you do most of your ordinary activities. You start to walk differently. You may have longer pauses while talking to allow Tourettes to do it's thing. I learned to take long walks just to get my legs to stop moving on their own.

You also learn new ways to hide your tics. You develop weird little habits to hide what your body was doing.  You become a master of deception to keep everyone from saying, "Dear God what is that?" By college I had become very adept at hiding everything I had about Tourettes. I lived a lot of those first two years under a cute little mask. Heaven forbid that they knew I had Tourettes. If I just walked around like a nice little robot for the rest of my life then maybe the depression and the bullying would never start again. 

But I never really thought that my mask would actually turn more people off than my Tourettes did. I sacrificed my humanity and suffered while keeping my bad roommate locked up in my head. No one wants to talk to robots. No one wants to love a robot or offer him friendship. It took a long time to tear all of the walls down and work myself back into the world of real human beings.  But when I started to finally let the real me out of the shell...I finally found a new feeling call compassion.

But more on that next week.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

R. S. Young's New Years Resolution!

By the time that you read this it's already a new year and looking forward to a blank slate. Today I'm on my way to the Passion Conference in Atlanta where forty-thousand plus college students and young adults are going to be converging on the Phillips arena and hearing great Christian Music and speakers and learning what we can do to make the world a better place. I thought while we're all thinking about how to start this New Year and get things going I'd list some of my New Years resolutions for my company, my blog, and my personal art.

Ricky's 2013 Resolutions

  • 5 production credits: This was something that came from me being completely honest with myself. I still consider myself a Journeyman in my craft (to the rest of you out there that's halfway between an apprentice and a master) I know what I'm doing but I feel like there are still some tools that I'm lacking and some experience that I haven't had that will make me feel accomplished. I'm in Grad School for Playwriting now and I feel that all the academics and foundation is there. As I was taking stock of myself I thought that if I just had 10 more resume credits over the next two years I would finally feel like an accomplished artist.
  • Start Raising Capital: Those production credits don't come cheap. While I have a day job and some money coming in I have to face the fact that I'm just a broke Grad Student who could use some money to get started. This will come from all sorts of avenues: Indigogo, a Cafepress store, merch, sponsors, ad sales and all that sort of stuff. But it still seems that the list of things that I need outweigh the things I have. I still need to pay for and register my business name and start gathering equipment. Also setting up a Paypal account would be a good idea. I still have to keep plugging on with all of this even without the money. But establishing revenue streams up front give me the freedom to do what I need.
  • Step forward as Producer/Consultant: It wasn't until the summer of last year that I finally realized that I really love being a producer. I produce my own work all the time and have produced other people's work in the past. I'd love to get more into producing for concerts, dance companies, and maybe some independent film. As a Jack of All Trades I have skills that give me an edge over producers who can just write the checks. I will always love theatre and live performance but I would like to help people get started in all of the arts.
  • Step out of the Musician/Performer Closet: I really like solo performance and have always tinkered around with making my own stringed instruments and playing Delta Blues, Bluegrass, and Nineties Rock/Grunge. Over the summer I stepped on the stage with one of my homemade instruments and played for the very first time, the crowd response was wonderful. After that I decided I was going to hit more open mic nights and start doing some one man shows. I'm working on one for the summer before I go back to grad school. Here's hoping that it gets to happen.
New Years are all about new beginnings and I want my new beginning to have me pointed forward. I want to be moving forward and upward but above all keep focused on improving my art, my craft, my life, and myself. 

Happy New Year and God Bless,

R. S Young or "Dr. Fronkensteen"