HST moves onto closure

My dear, deer 25th Year Families,
What a year we have journeyed! When Cynthia Alexander (SR Troupe Director) and I wondered why God led us to pick a tragedy for our 25th year (when we usually pick happy, funny, upbeat shows) we had no idea it was because we’d be living a tragedy. However, that is where we find ourselves – mourning the tragedy of a lost show season. For some – burnt out from the emotional roller coaster of the past 2 months – there will be relief that the decision is done.. For others – who were completely committed to making something happen – the grieving process has just started. For parents/directors/teachers – there will forever be a hole in our hearts for what never was. For all, there is the promise of God’s loving consolation as we strive to move forward with the next right thing.
What is the next right thing? CLOSURE
1. We want* all acting groups *to do a zoom audio recording of a line-read through of their show. *We would hope that everyone would participate since this can be done from the privacy of your home * (ideally this would include people who previously stepped out). It will only take two Zoom meetings to get this done (except for SR Troupe which Mrs. Alexander would like to do in one session).
– *ZOOM rehearsals today will work on vocal acting *(coloring of words), accents and timing. We’ll also do some test recording to figure out sound quality issues. *Next week’s Zoom sessions will then record show *(audio only) scene by scene. – Acting 9am to 11am – please reach out to those who previously opted out to ask them to join us – JR Troupe – 11am to 12:30pm – GB Troupe – 12:30pm to 2pm – SH Troupe – 2pm to 5pm – SR Troupe – THS will figure out a 3 hour block of time that works for everyone next week. You will practice/record in one session. Could be any afternoon or evening Monday – Thursday. – Tech & Make Up will do a Zoom recording about our tech program & your experiences for our website. Email will go out for those interested to select date/time.
2. We will offer all students who have songs (solos and group numbers) the opportunity to record them – *either in the privacy of your home *(you will need to get A Cappella App) *or by setting up a private recording session in my home during the first week of June.* For large group numbers the individual vocal tracks will be compiled into a single chorus song. For solos & small groups we strongly encourage recording at my house to get better quality.
– Whatever songs end up being recorded will get added to the audio recording of lines. – Note to SR Troupe – There is a legal loophole that enables us to offer this recording to you. You are allowed to make practice recordings for your cast. The CD that will be put together will be no more than a practice recording. It will not have any of the overture, underscore or dance music on it. It will just have singing & lines.
3. We will give all of our acting programs the opportunity to have a photo-shoot at Glenview Mansion. Costuming will be done in the cottage and parents will then be free to take pictures and videotape any scenes/songs/dances the students wish to do. This will not be a performance – but an evening for troupe members to hang out and have some fun in their costumes. It will be open to their families and possibly friends (depending on restrictions). We are scheduling these for late July to give every chance that there would not be any restrictions still in place.
– Directors will be at the photo-shoot evenings to hand out personal notes written to each student. We will also hand out the audio CD’s. – Those who do not attend the photo-shoot evenings will have their notes/CD’s mailed to them. – Students will need to commit in June if they plan to attend (to avoid prepping/transporting costumes not needed). We may also limit the # of costumes per student. – *Tentative schedule for photo shoots *(I obviously haven’t had time to book these dates but will send out a confirmation once I have contracts). – Acting – Wednesday, July 22 – 4 to 8pm – JR – Thursday, July 23 – 4 to 8pm – GB – Friday, July 24 – 4 to 8pm – Theatricals – Wed., July 29 – 4 to 8pm – Shakespeare – Thurs. July 30 – 4 to 8pm – Senior – Friday July 31 – 4 to 8pm – Tech students are welcome to attend the photo shoot of the program you were assigned to. Props will be available for you to take photos. If preferred, we will schedule your own evening at the mansion to hang out & take group photos. – Dance Only students – it would be too much to attempt to costume each dance class for photos. However, if your student was only involved in HST dance, you can request a time to come to my home so your student can get a picture in their costume.
When we look back on our 25th year – the memories will be very different than we’d hoped. The challenge is to choose how we will frame those memories. We can choose to focus on all the losses we experienced during this time, or we can choose to look at the creative resilience that we used to survive. We’ve all found ways to adapt, stay connected and survive the ultimate cabin fever. What’s more, this story is not finished. We control whether the last chapters of this book are ones of crippling fear or courageous trust, as we prudently take steps to renew our lives. I believe God will enable all of us to come through this with greater strength, renewed appreciation of life, and a deeper compassion for suffering. These are good things – things we can be grateful for – even if the means of achieving them has been painful. In sports they say, “No pain, no gain.” There is some truth to that statement for the spiritual life as well. God uses life’s challenges to prune us – so we can bear more fruit. I look forward to bringing forth that great fruit with all of you, as we put closure on this year and then move on to the next right thing. Blessings, Marilyn

How to vote today – by 7pm

Dear 25th Year HST Parents,
Not everyone was able to be on the Zoom meeting last night so I am going to sum up what I am asking parents to vote for and why it is not an anonymous vote.
How to vote: Just send an email with as much info or as little info as you want to share. I value everyone’s thoughts and wise counsel. The key information I need to know is:
Does your family feel they need to “bow out” at this point. *There will be no judgement for this decision. Every family has different comfort levels and different health issues. Also, the names of who bowed out will never be made public – it is a private, prayerful decision that I want every family should have complete freedom to make.*
Does your family feel comfortable moving forward with filming if we can legally do so? *We need to have gatherings of 50 to film. This is less likely now for troupes & Showcase because Montgomery County is not part of phase 1 re-opening. However, it may be true by the dates we have scheduled for Theatricals.*
You can also vote that you are comfortable if we can film at the theater but are not comfortable if we have to film off-location (which has the added layer of pre-recording singing).
It is also possible to vote that you are comfortable doing dances and Acting scenes for Showcase, but not choirs – or would like to decide about choirs after we have more information concerning how we would film them.
Why is this vote not anonymous? The short answer is that it is not just a numbers game. The directors carry the burden for “pulling off” these shows and filming is not what they signed on for. They have all agreed to do whatever they possibly can (they really do love your children) but they have to be able to decide if they can fill the “holes” that are created if some characters bow out.
Will my decision impact how my student is perceived by the directors? NO. These are extraordinary times and HST will pay all teachers/directors what would have been their full-year’s pay. We budget for teacher’s pay from tuition and tuition was collected in full, so teachers will be paid in full. However, no director/teacher has voiced concern about pay. They simply want to salvage this year as best they can for the sake of your students. They completely understand the health concerns. There will be no judgement for your family, just as you would not judge them if they bowed out due to health concerns.
Lastly, for those not in the Zoom meeting, I am committed to finding some means of closure for students and parents if we are not able to film shows. As a minimum we will make an audio recording of a line-read through for every show. * I am assuming parents would support this since it can done in the safety of your home.* This project is mostly for parent closure because there is value in hearing your children tell the story with words (not sure if it can include songs – will continue to research). I will also see if there is interest in having a photo-shoot for students at the Glenview Mansion where parents could video tape their student in costume singing – or dancing – or doing dialogue with another character in costume. (Tthis would not be anything formal – just a fun time for those interested in seeing friends and getting pictures.) These photo shoots would be offered for Acting, Troupe, and Theatricals (not dance or choirs). These shoots would be on weekday evenings at the end of July.
Please know that I continue to pray for each of you as you prayerfully discern what is best for your family. Blessings, Marilyn

Parent Zoom Meeting Link

Dear 25th Year HST Parents,
Below is the info for the Zoom parent meeting tonight. You are welcome to drop in for part of all. I blocked out 1.5 hours but I can stay on longer if needed, or we could end sooner if all questions/comments are handled. Blessings, Marilyn
Marilyn Mullan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Parent Meeting Time: May 13, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting us02web.zoom.us/j/88998436510?pwd=VWwwMkdXVWl3dHQ1SURHd1Z3NGJMZz09
Meeting ID: 889 9843 6510 Password: HSTParents

Why bother?

Dear 25th Year HST Parents,
First, I want to make it clear that my only desire is to discern God’s will for HST and follow through with that. I am also aware that God gives discernment in many ways – including wise council from others. That is why we will have a zoom parent meeting tomorrow evening (Wed., May 13th – 7pm). In preparation for that meeting, however, I would like to ask that you be willing to read my thoughts concerning the big-picture affects of this pandemic.
First – a short back-story for why I feel the way I do.
My favorite stories are biographies. There is so much that we can learn from the courage of those who have gone before us. Whether or not you are Catholic, Pope John Paul II was clearly a holy man who lived an amazing life. He was studying to be a priest when Poland was taken over by the communists. He continued to study in secret but he did something else in secret as well – he performed. He was an actor who risked his life, along with others, to put on performances in homes. When asked later why he did that, he said that the goal of communism was to destroy people’s individuality and their cultural identity, which leads to apathy and compliance. He said it was essential for them to keep their Polish heritage alive by telling their stories and sharing their great literature/plays. Holding onto their identity and roots is what gave many the strength to also hold onto their faith throughout the 45 years of communist rule that would follow.
Next, I want to share that I have 2 daughters who are counselors. One of them said, “The pandemic after this pandemic will be the trauma and anxiety that everyone will have to process in order to get on with their lives.” In some ways, homeschool students will have had less trauma than others because they were used to schooling at home, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be long-term affects. As a parent who has journeyed with my adult children while they worked to heal traumas from their youth, I can testify that parents don’t always see how deeply life is impacting our children’s spirits. This is not because the parent has failed in any way. It is simply because the children themselves are unaware of the true impact. These hidden traumas often don’t show up until years later when the (now) young adults find themselves struggling with their ability to trust, or to commit to a relationship, or they find themselves continually over-reacting to something(s).
Now, please do not think that I am trying to be an alarmist or add one more thing to be fearful of. HST students are blessed with strong, loving families who will continue to love and support them. They also have the “gift” of experiencing this trauma with the entire world (private/hidden traumas are much harder to heal). However, the fact remains that when everything gets canceled over and over, many people start coping by not caring. They become flat and unmotivated and depressed, as well as becoming more and more blinded to the needs of people around them. Our sense of community erodes as everyone develops a “survival of the fittest” mindset. Eventually compassion for neighbor is over-taken by fear and people become angry when they start to view other people as threats to their safety. This is the spiritual battle of this pandemic.
Do I really believe that finding a way to salvage our show season or just give closure to our students will make a difference in this battle? Yes. Absolutely. Why? Because it is *something*…and people survive times that are out of their control by doing whatever they CAN do. Right now, it is probably easier for your students to just give up and mourn their loss or just “not care.” After all, it’s just one more loss among so many losses. However, I want to challenge parents to think about your children’s long-term healing. How will you help your children get back into life, to “care” and to find the motivation to pursue their dreams when they’ve lived through the reality that life can change on a dime? They *know* that what we have today, may not be what we have tomorrow. This is not a small thing. It is a life-changing experience that will affect every decision your children make for the rest of their lives. If you doubt this, think about grandparents (or great-grandparents for those who are younger than I) who lived through the great depression. My grandmother could never throw away a piece of aluminum foil, a piece of string, a jar, a bag…and certainly not any scrap of food. She was *forever* changed. Also, think about the impact of 9/11 (which was just one day). This pandemic has impacted lives for a couple months and will continue to impact for many more months because the “fear” of this illness will not disappear until a vaccine is found, produced, and administered to the world. Even then, there will always be the fear of a mutated form of the virus – or new viruses.
So, the first reason that I believe HST needs to do whatever it can to salvage our show season – or give some sort of closure – it to fight against the shutting down of our children’s spirits. While many students at this moment may be saying that they’d rather just “move on” and look forward to next year; my question to parents is: what happens when next year brings more disappointment? How quickly will the youth with this temperament transition from “moving on” to “giving up.” After all, why pursue dreams if they can be whisked away overnight? Why care at all – if it will just bring disappointment later?
My second reason for doing whatever we can, is based on a different temperment’s reaction to COVID19 – increased anger. I know that if this had happened during my teen “rebel” years, my anger would have flared immediately. I would have perceived the adult reactions to this virus as over-reactions based on fear for themselves and too little concern for the sacrificed opportunities for the young (opportunities that those adults had had, but were all-too-willing to surrender because there was no cost to themselves). Disclaimer: I fully acknowledge that anger – just like fear – does not lead people to logical, rational thinking. I am simply sharing how my teen-age rebel brain worked so you might better understand that I want our students to know that we did not throw in the towel quickly, or without regard for their incredible losses.
In the end, the fate of HST’s shows and/or our options for giving some sort of closure are completely beyond anyone’s control. My goal from the beginning was to fight for *something* for our students until there was nothing left to fight for. I have also prayed from the beginning that God would not allow us to do anything that was not His will. Obviously, one of the ways God could show me what His will is – is through the parent vote that will happen Thursday 5/13. Another way God could intervene is for Gov. Hogan to announce at Thursday’s 5pm press conference that groups of no more than 10 will remain in affect through mid-June. A third way would have been if the financial cost of filming would put HST’s survival at risk (something that did not prove to be true based on the best available calculations).
Finally, I want to make it clear that I do not have a dog in this fight. No one’s vote should have anything to do with me. I am an adult who is capable of deciding whether or not I’m comfortable with the protective procedures that HST would put in place. Therefore, do not make my protection the justification for your decision. Conversely, do not think that you need to do this “for me” because I will take it personally, or be upset. My feelings are mine to process, as are yours. I strive hard to live by the principle of “agreeing to disagree.” Obviously, I wouldn’t have proposed filming if I didn’t believe it could be done safely, but I am also aware that everyone has different comfort levels and different risk factors. My job is to do the best I can with the limitations and circumstances that exist. While those circumstances have been a moving target requiring several updated plans, I stated that filming in the first two weeks of June would be the last proposal for troupes & Showcase. That statement remains true. If filming is no longer possible (regardless of which reason that becomes true), we will look at ways to give some closure and then move onto next year.
Please know that you are all in my prayers. Blessings, Marilyn

Parent Zoom about shows tomorrow 7pm

Dear 25th Year HST Parents,
I am aware of the increased parental stress about the current plans to film HST’s shows. I am proposing the following plan:
– I will send out an email with my thoughts on why it is worth fighting to the bitter end to film if at all possible (I ask that you read this before tomorrow evening.) – I will hold a parent zoom meeting tomorrow, Wed. May 13 at 7pm to discuss how we would handle safety precautions – On Thursday, May 145h, parents will be asked to email hstalents@gmail.com with a vote to either: continue to wait to see if the restrictions will allow us to film OR to go ahead and cancel. – I do need to know who is voting because each show will be tallied separately. However, the total numbers and the names of who voted for what will remain anonymous.
Since I want every parent to have the opportunity to express their concerns as well as base their decisions on accurate information, I need to make sure everyone knows about this zoom meeting. Please reply to this email to let me know you will or will not be participating (Shakespeare only parents do not need to participate, although you are welcome.)
Blessings, Marilyn

Acting Zoom Meeting

The password for this meeting will be HSTActing. It will work for all May Zoom meetings.
Marilyn Mullan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Acting A & B Time: May 8, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Every week on Fri, until May 29, 2020, 4 occurrence(s) May 8, 2020 09:00 AM May 15, 2020 09:00 AM May 22, 2020 09:00 AM May 29, 2020 09:00 AM Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system. Weekly: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZIudeGuqTIvG91Utj-ZkVyBedwGliochpm6/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGurTkiHNOctRiORpwAA4joWe7wtlhYjfoMqQvvThpYVBrUM-ZVFb52H9vY
Join Zoom Meeting us02web.zoom.us/j/86328679519?pwd=NFdRT3BEQ3pyM3NIZlA3MGltYWhNUT09
Meeting ID: 863 2867 9519 Password: HSTActing

Friday Zoom Schedule

Dear 25th Year HST Parents,
First, if your family have opted out of filming, feel free to ignore emails that no longer apply to you. My time is pretty valuable at this point so I’m not going to worry about taking families out of the email group.
For everyone else, here is the plan for Zoom sessions in May.
– Please note that directors may opt to break-up their scheduled time to work with smaller groups (a separate email would be sent so please keep checking email). – Directors may choose to assign video homework instead of doing a Zoom meeting. We will instruct you how to do this, but it basically involves filming your student and then posting that video to a google drive. – Theatricals Zoom sessions are tentatively set for June 5 & June 19 from 1pm to 4pm.
– 9am to 9:40am – Scenes 1 & 4 – 9:40 to 10:20 – Scenes 2 & 5 – 10:20 to 10:40 – Scenes 3 & 6 – 10:40 to 11am – Scene 7
JR Troupe – 11am to 12:30pm
GB Troupe – 12:30 to 2pm
SR Troupe – 2 to 5pm on May 8th & 29th
SH Troupe – 2 to 5pm on May 15 & 22 (for audio recording of line read-through)
CHOIRS (Broadway & A Cappella) Friday mornings – keep 9am to Noon on Friday.
– Mrs. McFarland will be setting up her Zoom sessions & will send schedules out each week – This Friday: May 8th – both choirs will have an hour session in which Mrs. McFarland will go over how she’ll run her rehearsals and what will be expected of you. – Broadway Choir – May 8 – 10am to 11am – A Cappella Choir – May 15 – 11am to Noon
Blessings, Marilyn
PS – I realize I still owe you info about dance classes and specific times for Showcase filming. I have a daughter getting married July 4th, so I needed to focus on some tasks for that but will be catching up on HST stuff the rest of this week.