Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lights Out for a Better Tomorrow

It's time to make changes for the better. Go to the World Wildlife Fund website (link is below) to find out more.

The Rainbow Connection: Literal Video Version

I ran across this on Puppeteers Unite while I was blog surfing and I wanted to share. Enjoy.

I am a Constant Clown, a Sometimes Actor and I will be Paid.

Eleanor of Aquitane (Teri Pena Ross) and King Henry II (Alan Ross) in James Goldman's "The Lion in Winter", directed by John O'Niel.

This evening Pammy and I ,plus our friend Charles Mascilli, will be going to see a play; specifically, The Lion in Winter, by The Classic Theater of San Antonio at The Sterling Houston Theater located in the Blue Star Art Complex in downtown San Antonio.

We'd been away from San Antonio since 1994 and then settled in Dallas after we left the circus. When we moved back to San Antonio in 2002 Pammy and I tried to get some theater work. Back in the nineties there were a number of theaters and other venues where an actor/performer could make a living.

So, upon our return years later we found out the situation here was a little different for actors.There was an abundance of theaters to keep an actor busy but as it turned out they paid very little or seldom if ever paid. There was one that could easily pay but it was and remains a "closed house" using their company of players while only on a rare occasion auditioning outside actors for their shows.

I went to a few auditions at various theaters and got into the habit of asking about the actor's salary for the run of the play. I got some interesting answers. Some said it would depend on how much the box office took in for the run but first they had to take care of their daily expenditures before taking care of their actors. One person I spoke to said, quite nonchalantly, that they paid you if they felt you were working hard enough for them and if they liked you.
Others just say that they can't pay because they can't afford it. Some theaters want you to hang around so they can get used to you, I guess.

There was one place,though, a university, that had a budget for an original play where the director made it a point of saying how the actors should be grateful they were being paid. Small minds breed large egos sometimes.

For those San Antonio actors who haven't worked elsewhere this would probably appear to be the norm in theater and thus not try to change things for the better. Actors want to be on stage as often as possible here as they would in any other town with a theater community. But it shouldn't have to be a hobby. Pammy and I have made a decent living as professional actors and variety arts performers for years working with small and large theaters (both profit and non profit) as well as circuses, fairs, film and t.v.

I have not seen a play, out of principal, for the last eight years. I didn't want to give the theater owners money that I knew would not be distributed in an equitable fashion amongst the cast and crew.But in the spirit of hope and change I'll be going to the play I mentioned at the beginning of my post by the theater that produced last year's "Waiting for Godot", which Pammy saw and enjoyed. I'm really hoping this will be a theater company that produces good work and pays their actors well.

If the contrary is true then I'll probably be at the concession stand during intermission getting drinking cheap wine in order to endure the second half and drown the guilt I'll feel for watching poorly paid actors doing what they love mostly as a hobby. Sounds pretty dramatic, huh?
Sorry if I sound bitter but it's for good reason and I do hope I'm wrong and it'll be a great show whose memory will be imprinted within my synaptic connections after tonight. For now I'm cautiously optimistic. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday Morning at Rancho Ramirez

It's Saturday morning. The kids are in their pajamas watching cartoons. I've just finished washing a sink full of dishes and Pammy is making pancakes. I haven't combed my hair or put on shoes...yet. It's a casual morning and that's the way we like it here at Rancho Ramirez. If we didn't have to run a couple of errands today I'd stay in my jammies all day. There's always tomorrow.

Coker Elementary on the north side of town.

Doc Ed teaching the young'ns some history.

Dino Doc and a fifth grade volunteer do some mask work at Coker Elementary Friday morning.

Yesterday good ol' Doc Ed paid a visit to one hundred and fifty fifth graders at Coker Elementary School on the north side of town just off of highway 281. I'm always am little nervous about that grade level because they're at that critical age where they must be cool and aloof. Plus there's that pesky generational gap that oftentimes is more of a vast chasm. But thankfully, I must be doing something right because I haven't gotten that kind of response yet... but I still worry.

Friday, March 25, 2011

From Way Back When- H.R.Pufnstuf - Box Kite Caper

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

This week marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. It was a great American tragedy and should be remembered. Below are some informative links.!

Everything Old is News Again

Here's something straight from the front page of today's Express News. Artifacts found north of Austin show evidence of human life dating back 15,ooo years. Crazy! Click on the images for a magnified view. There's a couple of links with more info about this prehistoric news after the article.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Slideshow Time!

Time is on Our Side

It's the Thursday already and the month is almost over too. Where has the time gone? I never thought I'd say that but there you have it. It's what being forty- seven years old will do to you. I think it has a lot to do with becoming more responsible as you mature. When your younger you sleep in till noon then go to your job as an usher at the cineplex or don your greasy duds for a meaningless eight hours at the Church's Fried Chicken. Time has no significant impact on a post pubescent person whose most pressing matter is hanging out with friends watching and memorizing, line per line, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That's also the blissful time in one's life when pizza was a breakfast food. Time rolls on.

Now there's never enough time in the day. Why?! But today was definitely a flashback to those fun filled days of yesteryear. Pammy and I went for a walk in the park then had breakfast at the westside's best kept secret: Natalie's or as we like to call it: the Pink House. No pizza there but they do have some really good Mexican food. We had our favorite: an egg, cactus (nopalitos), bean and cheese burrito. We sat there to plan out our future puppet variety stage show. After that we went to the Texas Thrift Store around the corner from Our Lady of the Lake University to shop around for props, costumes and any other thing that might catch our eye.

We finished off our leisurely morning by stopping by at the Edwards Aquifer Authority to pick up the giveaways for tomorrow's Doc Ed show at Coker Elementary. Oh and then we had a little extra time at home to watch a bit of Dana Carvey on an old video that is older than our kids. Now I'm blogging. The kids will be home soon and I'll have to head out to pay a bill at the H.E.B. Then it's back home to help get dinner on the table, make sure homework gets done, do a few dishes, bathe the kids, read to them then get them to bed by 7:30.

Thursdays are good t.v. nights at Rancho Ramirez. To most it might not seem like a very exciting way to spend the night but it's the one night of the week we just sit and totally do nothing productive except chill out. We like that. We'll watch Big Bang Theory, !@!#* My Dad Says (Love that William Shatner who turned eighty this week!), C.S.I. ( the Las Vegas one) and finally The Mentalist. Totally chilling out is a good thing for us and a great way to wrap up what turned out to be a fun day. It's like being twenty again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Tax Man Cometh

It's time for to do our taxes here at Rancho Ramirez. It's just doesn't feel like springtime until we've filled out those pesky tax forms and send them flying north after a bitter winter. Fun times, baby! In the world of the freelance artist there's a lot of paper work to keep track of throughout the year. You think I would have gotten used to it by now. Sheesh! In the last couple of years though, we have managed to whittle the mountain of paper down to a more manageable pile. Even then it's still a bit of a pain but that's the price we pay for being self employed.

With any luck we'll have our taxes done before the end of the month then we get to watch everyone else rush to the post office on the last day. The downtown post office always had a huge line and postal workers manned several stations outside to get the income tax returns in drive thru fashion. I don't know if we'll get a refund but if we do it will be spent in a week catching up on bills and buying new clothes for the kids. Meanwhile Pammy and I dream of a bigger refund next year. It's the circle of strife.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mountainview Memories

Mountainview College always put on fun shows for all; actors and audience alike. Some local"professional" theaters could learn a lot from college productions like this one.

The cast and crew of the Mountainview College production of their original musical "Cereal Box Submarine". Pammy and I are sitting atop the sub to the right. We got to play goofy pirates and had a blast.

That's Pammy in the bird costume. She got to work her pantomime chops a little extra for the show. Some performers don't like costume character work but we enjoy the challenge that type of work presents.

Pam and I sitting with Louise Stovall, a very sweet lady who was a neighbor and dear friend.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Break from Spring Break

Spring Break is over! It went well though there were a couple of times we swore time actually stood still. Crazy. Time to restock the fridge that was raided continuously by our kids. Spring break is a preview for what to expect for the summer. Must join Sam's Club!

Toward the end of the week I started carving a couple of wands, sans the magic, for my kids. They're modeled after the wands used in the Harry Potter films by Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. The Harry Potter style wand is made from a dowel rod which was not the best choice since it's so hard to carve. Thank goodness for Dremel tools. The second was made from bass wood which is like butter! Both are still in the rough stages but should be finished by the end of the week.

Last week we also worked on some hand props for the San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet which will be used next month for their annual dance show" Kaliedoscope".

This weekend I managed to attend a workshop on getting a book published. I say managed because I was still a little shaky from my bout with the flu earlier in the week. I didn't make it to a second workshop there that day on improving one's blog. I'm sure it was pretty good. Both workshops were sponsored by the local chapter of Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and were held at the University of the Incarnate Word.
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