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“That guy on stage kinda reminds me of me.”
Oh wait. It was me.
That’s a weird feeling – seeing someone playing you on stage. Or seeing someone playing your dad or your grandmother on stage. But if you think it was weird for me to see “me” on stage, just imagine what the person playing me must have felt. There they were, playing the role of a real guy who was actually in the audience and also happened to write the play you were in.
In truth, actor David Denton did a phenomenal job playing the part of me (or rather, in the script, “Tristan”). When we were in pre-production for my first ever play, Those Unforgettable Black Rims, David approached me about the role.
“So, uhm, I have a question,” he asked. “I know this role is kind of, well, you. So, uh… How do I play you?”
I thought for a moment. Finally I said, “I guess the best way to play me is not to play me. I play me pretty good; you play you pretty good. So why don’t you play me like you would play you, only as me.”
He cocked his head, puzzled. Valid response.
I shook my head, confused at myself as well. “How about you just play ‘Tristan’ and don’t worry about playing me?”
David smiled and nodded. And that was exactly what he did and he did it splendidly.
In April 2013, director Robyn R. Huizinga and the Children and Adults Theatrical Studio stood at the helm of the script I had pounded out over the past couple of years. Everything – from the cast to the set – blew my mind. The whole production team was incredible. The cast was awesome. The theatre was packed. I was mostly speechless. The success of the show has little to do with me and much to do with the people who took the script and produced great work out of it. I owe so much to the whole group; without them, the show would still just be a few black marks on a page, hidden away on my computer. Thank you all!
The show (affectionately referred to simply as “Black Rims”) is indeed about my family… loosely. And while the actors certainly played the part of my family on stage, another family emerged during production. It was a family of people, unrelated by blood, but bound together by this project. Now that was truly a gift.
Accomplishments are great, but what makes them truly awesome are the team of people who supported you along the way, for it truly is a team effort. Imagine a runner who wins the Boston marathon but has no one at the finish line to cheer with her. It would be such a bummer! I’m blessed that the show was produced, but, months later, I look back thankful not just because it was produced, but also because I got to work with some absolutely genuine and talented people who worked and cheered and laughed and cried with me every step of the way. I wouldn’t trade that for anything! 🙂 Thank you all.
The book features the full show, pictures from the production, and a special introduction from me. If you’re interested in production rights, simply email me from my contact page. However, if you’re just interested in enjoying a read, I set it up in such a way that it could be read at leisure or it could be read aloud by a family together. Whichever way you engage the show, I pray you enjoy!
Also, I will link a couple videos from the original production here and here. Acting credits go to David Denton, Chanda Riney, Emily Darwin, Tim Robinson, and Reagan Kruse. Not shown are Kelly Robinson and Lisa Hernandez.
Since it is Christmas time, how about a little extra something? – if you go to the CreateSpace store and enter the promo code KWA4LYSL you’ll get 15% off your purchase. Enjoy!
Or just Happy Holidays…
The internet today is a-buzz with a story about a woman in Chicago who killed three people in order to get the last Xbox One during Black Friday. It may be bogus – who knows – but the story says it happened at Wal-Mart which only adds to it’s credibility. That petrie dish of disease and frustration is dangerous even during the weekday.
But here’s the crazy part – we would all believe this story without batting an eye even if it wasn’t true! Now that says something.
The reality is, Christmas shopping is dangerous. Heck, Christmas alone is dangerous. Electrical fires, frostbite, scalding cocoa, too much egg nog at the Christmas party – sheesh, I should wear a helmet this month!
However, let us not forget in all the hustle and bustle that Christmas is a religious holiday. There are certainly disputes about how religious it is. Some say that Christmas is mostly pagan traditions and is hardly Christian at all. Others remind us that Jesus is the reason, no matter what traditions we celebrate with. Still others mesh traditions and Jesus by flying their Santa figurine over a Nativity; these people are just weird. No matter how you spin it, Christmas is still quite Christian even for the non-Christian, non-religious, non-God crowd.
Now, as an observer, I’ve observed that some observe religious observation during Christmas as offensive. Religious observations around this time does, at least, become a little annoying to people who find that stuff bothersome. But taking the “Christ” out of Christmas is kind of like taking the -anukah out of Chanuka – it wouldn’t make much sense.
I understand that some of my readers don’t identify with the Christian faith. That’s okay with me; this isn’t an explicitly Christian blog.I want to reach individuals and families of all backgrounds and ideas. But as a Christian, in an attempt to make universal the lessons of my faith, I want to bring everyone a few of the best reasons why a religious Christmas is best. Perhaps you won’t be lighting candles at a church service on the 24th, but that doesn’t make the “Christ” in Christmas any less important for you too. Here’s a few reasons why:
- God was born next too poop. Glamorous, I know. Consider the story universally, though. A god is made flesh by a virgin girl. Virgin girl gives birth to a god himself… next to a big steaming pile of goat scat. Whether you believe the story actually happened or not, it’s still a good story. Perhaps the lesson here for us all is that we should consider where we come from; even God himself was born in a less-than-glamorous way. Think of the lady stabbing people over an Xbox – do we consider ourselves as being like her? Probably not, because I’m sure we’d all like to think we wouldn’t do such a thing. Reality is we all were born the same – naked, smelly, and bringing nothing with us. Perhaps we should treat each other the same, remembering our common roots, and with a little dignity.
- The baby dies in the end. Hindsight is 20/20. Everybody knows now that historically speaking, a man named Jesus was crucified on a cross. In the context of the Bible, Jesus was born so that he could die, thereby paying back the debt owed by man’s selfish ambition. But this ending wasn’t exactly a secret to anybody in those days; everybody knew of the prophesy – a savior would come and die. In the spirit of Christmas, a baby was born so that it would one day be sacrificed. Kind of grim. Also, kind of remarkable. Consider the bumbling, angry crowds at the big box stores. They don’t quite seem to be concerned with sacrifice. For a holiday about a baby that would pay the ultimate price doing what he believed in, we tend to forget our manners – and the need for the little, daily sacrifices we make for others.
- God had a family that gave him a headache too. One of the first things little baby Jesus did was meet family. He met lots of them. They weren’t all the most trendy people either. He had a great grandmother who was a whore. He had a cousin who would grow up eating bugs for a living. His parents would get on his case about what he wanted to do in life. Jesus had a pretty dysfunctional bunch just like the rest of us. Think about how frustrated you get in the midst of your family chaos at Christmas dinner. Perhaps one of the coolest lessons from the religious Christmas is that we’ve all been there – surrounded by crazy people, blood relative or otherwise, we have to share the day with. We all know what it’s like to experience that headache. But if the story of Jesus teaches all of us anything, perhaps we should be reminded that Jesus still went on doing what was right, even when his family was a mess. He still sacrificed and gave to them, even when they were a bit selfish themselves. When I think of my own patience with my family at Christmas time, I’m ashamed to admit that I can become a bit of a Grinch.
Maybe you’re not religious. That’s okay. But seeing as the Christmas holiday is religious in nature, maybe it’s not so bad to take a look at it as such. Humility, sacrifice, patience – those don’t seem like just religious values to me. They seem like good values all around. At the very least, they certainly come in handy at the checkout counter as you purchase that overpriced gizmo at 20% off.
Sorry for the religious holiday, but perhaps it won’t be as bad as you think.
– Merry Christmas!
Video Posted on Updated on
WARNING: The video I’ve posted today is graphic. It contains some real, violent situations. I encourage you to watch it, regardless. I pray it will leave you a little more self-reflective. I know it did to me.
“You know, I’d love to help you but I’m busy doing this thing with this guy at this place. Yeah. Sorry.”
Everybody love the story of the Good Samaritan. You know – guys gets mobbed, left to die. Religious leaders pass by and ignore him. Politicians pass by and ignore him. In fact the only guy who cares about this dude is a low-life Samaritan. This guys stops. He helps the guys who got mobbed. He takes him to an inn, gets him patched up, and makes sure the guys has food to eat. We love this story because we all like to see ourselves as that Samaritan.
But you are NOT that Samaritan.
Trust me, I’d like to think that too, but I’M not that Samaritan. Statistically speaking, when we see someone in need, we will pass by them and ignore their problem. This grotesque human phenomenon is called “the bystander effect.”
It’s especially bad when we are busy. These two researches by the name of Darley and Batson recreated the Good Samaritan story in 1973 with Princeton Theological Seminary students no less. They had the students go from point A to point B in a hurry. As they did, the students passed by a guy who needed help. Did they help? Overwhelmingly, no. Only 10% offered to help! These are religious students no less. And it doesn’t stop there. The bystander effect is worse when we are with others. A study by some smart folks (Latane and Rodin are their names, 1963 was the year) found that only 40% of people in groups would stop to help in an emergency situation. That’s less than half.
Humans – we kinda suck.
Hence the video this week. We all would like to think we are that good Samaritan, but we aren’t. The video today is real proof of this and I post it for this reason – what kind of love are we sharing if THIS is what we are doing everyday? Answer: We aren’t sharing any kind of love.
It’s not easy to break out of this bystander effect, either. I’m aware of that. But here are some ways to make a change for the better:
- Get some guts. Break out. When you see injustice, don’t assume someone else will take care of it. They won’t. If you don’t help, no one will.
- Don’t be afraid to stand alone. The effect is worse in groups. Sometimes, doing the right thing means standing alone.
- NOTHING is more important than helping someone who needs it. No meeting is more important, no text is as urgent, and no spreadsheet is as vital as helping someone out. To know someone breathed easier because you lived today is to know you’ve truly lived.
And lastly, hold each other to a higher standard. If you see me passing by a situation I should be stopping at, throw a shoe at me.
Love is about doing the right thing, even if it costs you your life. This world needs a little more love. Why not give it a little bit more of your life today?