Monday, July 30, 2007

Live from Lima, A & D, misadventures in Peru

Hi friends,call me lazy and that{s fine, but below is the email my little bro sent to our family and his friends a couple hours ago that tlks about what we{ve done so far. i´ll just add this to what david said- everything is really great. i was a little nervous yesterday because we had absolutely no plan for the rest of teh week, but now that we{ve booked things through the weekend i feel like i can finally relax. in other news, david is wonderful company specifically because he is always hot and he makes my bed warm when i{m cold ( its in the 50s here which as you know is freezing to me).also, david didn{t tlak about how we almost missed our flight this morning on our way to cuzco. we got to the airport about 30 minutes before our flight and the lady at the checkin desk had to call someone to see if we were allowed on the plane. luckily, we were. as we were standing in the security line and we heard them call our names on teh loudspeaker so we cut the rest of the line, and kept our fingers crossed that we would make it thru security with all our liquids (we did, it´s funny how peru is the opposite of america somethimes, we didn{t even have to take off our shoes!) when we got thru security we ran past a man who asked what airline we were on. we shouted starperu! and kept going full speed ahead. after a second, i realized he had started running too. he caught up with us and then led us outside onto the run way where our plane was literally waiting for us. as soon as we got to our seats in the back row the plane started moving. it was ridiculous. all´s well now. we´re hoping to feel good enough totnight (righ tnow both david and i are feeling the effects of the elevation here ) to find some live music and then we´re off to manchu picchu in the morning. enjoy david´s comical account of our trip so far, alisonhola everybody. como estas this is david updating you on the peruvian experience. now i know, your all used to adams long novels about his trips but i can promise you this will be short juicy and sweet...LIKE ME. please ignore all punctuation mistakes because this keyboard only has a period button.hey everyone, alison and i arrived in lima yesterday, and may i say we weren ot impressed. the streets were ugly, the city ugly, even the people...notso good looking. we stayed in a hotel that are taxi driver conned us into,we were just so tired from our 4 stop flight, miami to nicaragua, to elsalvador to lima, we just didnt care. my sis and i walked around the city , i ate some native macaroni and cheese while she had some canned beans due to herorthadoxey. we were at the hotel by 7 and both asleep by 8pm body were tired. today we awoke and boarded the noisiest plane ever to go from god forsaken lima to beautiful hilly cusco. as we flew over alison would make me pull my nose out of the 7th harry potter to peer out at the beautiful mountains we were flying over. for those of you that are curious, im on page 96 of the 7th harry potter, finished the 6th yesterday and it is goooooooooood. Anyway, we arrived in cusco, the land of milk and honey, and proceeded to our really really awesome cute, quaint, adorable youth hostel thats filled with little trinkets and toys to play with. as i walked out of the cab naucious as hell from the elevation sickness, i realized my camera fell out of my pocket. So my fat body and i started sprinting down the streets of cusco to catch the taxi....i caught up to it, banged on the window...but it was not the right guy...this guy had a moustache, the other guy didnt. thats how i differentiate people here, by moustache. the very nice people at the hostile asked what happened and i told them as they walked me back to the hostel, then WONDER OF WONDERS MIRACLES OF MIRACLES the ta xi pulled into our area again. the cute hostel host stopped him with my help and he drove us to a laundromat where some lady had it. AFTER that alison and i had lunch, i had some sort of a mushroom, eggplant, thoujsand vegetable sandwich, ali had pbj. now we´re in our room, me in the lobby, chewing on glucose tablets to get rid of our elev a tion sickness for we are off for two days to montchupiechu tomorrow. keep you updated, we have a phone number it is 51195719195 know to dial out to us you need 001, i dont know how it works to dial us, but we have free incoming calls, so those of us who owe me a phone call, speaking to one specific person here, grab a phone card and hit us up.gonna peruze around the town tonight, so pray we don´t get kidnapped.peace and love the ones the onlies,david and alison benjamin heather schwartzbaum.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A great music video

Brad Paisley - Online Music Video
song Online. Taylor Swift, Kellie Pickler, and Jason Alexander make guest appearances....brad paisley online taylor swift kellie pickler music video jason alexander
From: taylordashfandotcomViews: 1,309Added: 5 days ago
Time: 05:48

If you like Jason Alexander and William Shatner, youhave to watch this video.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The letter from Michael and Lillian Andron

Dear Thespians, Alumni, and Beloved Parents (past and present),
It is with sadness (and as you’ll soon see excitement) that I compose this letter to tell all of you that Lillian and I are leaving Hillel. Don’t worry! There will be an easy way to continue doing theatre with us in a new and expanded way. Before I describe what lies before us, let me muse for a minute about the past… a post mortem like we do at the end of one show so we can move on to the next.
Just look at what we’ve done together! All of us! I am so proud of every actor, techie, parent volunteer and participant for the last twenty years. Fifty shows that touched every genre possible: Shylock, Les Misérables, Joseph/Dreamcoat, John Lennon and Me, Flowers for Algernon, Noises Off, Ballyhoo, Gamma Rays… and the list goes on and on. Just the tech alone: for Les Misérables: 75 set changes, 300 light cues; for Joseph, an uncountable series of costume changes; For Beauty and the Beast, even more changes… and more complicated, too. There’s no end to the great theatre that all of us created.
And we worked like a family to do it. Lillian and I have kvelled as we have seen high school students mentoring the elementary and middle school kids, or to see those same high school students being mentored by alumni and adult volunteers and performers. That inter-generational camaraderie – students, alumni, parents and faculty working together as a collaborative family to produce a work of art – has been a unique feature of our program and a personal source of joy for me.
Did it hurt your academics? Hey, almost every Silver Knight Honorable Mention to date (and our first winner, this year) was a Thespian. Almost every year, we had at least one Thespian speak at graduation as valedictorian, salutatorian, or class president. We produced the Number One Techie in the country as determined by the International Thespian Society. HCT has always had a large percentage of the “top ten” kids in academics, proving once again how right-brain stimulation enhances left-brain accomplishment, producing a more balanced human being.
Did it affect your personal growth as people and as Jews? No doubt! So many of you showed such amazing growth in absorbing HCT key lessons such as noblesse oblige, pro-active thinking on your feet, esprit de corps, self-esteem, true confidence from within and Torah centeredness. For twenty years, we have shared our lives with so many hundreds of young Jewish students and tried to ignite creative, spiritual sparks. I’m proud of our Judaic successes; so many of you were brought closer to your Yiddishkeit through this program. The classes in Jewish meditation and kavana were often a highlight of your days and mine.
We are equally proud of some of the fabulous theatre art that inspired dozens of budding careers in acting, directing, producing, the writing of plays and films, movie making, and technical theatre that all began on the Hillel stage.
But the nature of all things is “change” and for a variety of reasons, we both feel that now is the time. So with great excitement let me tell you that Lillian and I are accepting the positions as Artistic Director and Managing Director of J-CAT: The Jewish Cultural Arts Center (just a working title… maybe we should have a naming contest… hmm) located just 100 yards away from Hillel at the MAR-JCC!
So here’s the plan (still developing) of what’s going to happen:
We will be creating a mini-Black Box Theatre that will challenge actors and tech alike in new ways. (@120 seats).
We will be doing the same pre-announced four shows this year (although the musical may change because of the change in venue). Yes, competition may be tougher because students from other schools will be auditioning… but your training and experience and preparation should stand you in good stead.
The cast of The Good Doctor remains the same! Its opening night will be even more special because it will help kick off the fund-raising drive for the new Cultural Arts Center that is going to be built in the next few years. And we hope there will be extra performances. We will have after-school classes available with Lillian in acting for both Middle and High School.
We will be Re-introducing and overseeing the Summer Stock Camp program startingnext year. Some of you younger ones may want to be in it… some older ones maywant to be counselors (open to actors and tech).
What about the Thespian trips? We will be conducting theatre trips to New York or London (for teens, for adults, for families). Modeled after our famed Hillel Thespian trips, these include our seeing shows, having workshops, having talkbacks with actors, directors and designers… and sight-seeing when there are a few minutes left over.
Hillel Thespian Alumni! You’ll be welcomed back to audition for all plays (or for Tech) as will those who have gone to Krop and other schools…. we look forward to seeing you as more than just audience. We will be developing a Professional Repertory Company, a group of actors who will be working on both serious, comic and children’s theatre. And they’ll even be getting paid!
Rehearsal schedules will be somewhat different (easier for some… tougher for others) as will some participation fees (which can be handled, as in the past, by selling ads). All in all, we’ll still be doing excellent theatre as we swap one “empty space” for another.
The end-of-summer Shabbaton (Larry Silverberg’s Teen Actor Master Class, with this world-renowned teacher of Meisner Acting Method) will still take place but will no longer be sponsored by Hillel but by Kodesh. We are expanding its scope initially to include alumni of the last 3 years. Those interested must contact me immediately! Older alumni who are interested should contact me as well. (Those already registered who wrote their checks to Hillel… call me, or have your parents contact me.) This will be an amazing 2-day Shabbat-Sunday experience.
Please feel free to call us with any questions, but please don’t ask us WHY. The only explanation I can give you is better said with this wonderful quote: ‘whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should’.
Both Lillian and I want to thank you all: parents, students, alumni, friends and all the Hillel administrations throughout our history that have created a home for the HCT. You have enriched our lives so much over the last 20 years; we hoped we have touched yours. But this is not an end… it’s just a beginning.
We’ve raised the Hillel Bar as far as we can take it. You all made that happen and nothing will ever change that. Now with this transitional studio-theatre (and the amazing one still in architect’s blueprints… and it is amazing) the greatest age of our theatre work is yet to come. Be a part of the adventure.
We love you all.
Michael and Lillian

Monday, July 9, 2007

Today was my first Independence Day in Washington DC, and it leaves me with a wonderful story to tell. This afternoon,my roommate David and I set out for a day on the National Mall, to take part in the many festivities going on there. We arrived by the capitol in the early afternoon, and by 4:15 had made our way to a stage set up between the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool, where the Navy Band was giving a performance. We sat down to enjoy the show around 4:15 with a coworker from my office, until the performance was cut short at 5:00, with an announcement that heavy thunderstorms were moving into the area, and the entire mall was to be closed. All were advised to find shelter in various museums and government agencies until the storm passed.

David and I set out for Independence Avenue, and soon found ourselves sitting in the lobby of the Holocaust Museum, of all places. There we sat for a good twenty minutes folding paper cranes while people continued to gather in the hall. Suddenly, there was an announcement; all were glad to hear that we were being moved from the hard stone floor of the lobby to the two theaters in the building, where we could more comfortably- and safely- wait out what had quickly turned from a thunderstorm to a tornado warning.
Soon we were sitting among around 500 people in the largest auditorium in the Holocaust Museum. At the front of the room, a young woman on the museum staff led the visitors inside with a firm voice, and then proceeded to answer questions from the audience (about anything but the weather). As Dave and I sat in one of the back rows, I had an idea: wouldn't it be fun for all of us to seize the spirit of the day and sing some patriotic songs together? It seemed like a fanciful idea, but David prodded me on. "Just go up to the lady at the front of the room and ask her. You can do it." I thought, what the hell. It's the Fourth of July. We should be celebrating! After a few more moments of deliberation, I stood up and made my way to the front of the crowded auditorium, where I asked the young woman if I could ask the audience if they would like to be led in song. Before she could give me a firm answer, her boss came into the room, to give everyone more information about the situation and the weather. After six or seven minutes, he made his way out, and I, perched at the bottom of the stairs, stood up to once again lay claim to the stage. "Sure," she said, "go ahead. Just don't expect me to get involved."

So I hopped up on the stage, introduced myself to the audience, and asked them if they would like to join me in a few patriotic songs to celebrate our country on this Independence Day. With smiles and voices of assent, the crowd cheered me on, as I led them in a rousing rendition of "God Bless America." Following that, I polled the audience, and suggestions from the crowd had us singing "You're a Grand Old Flag" (twice!) and "America the Beautiful." Then, I had a simple idea; how about singing our National Anthem? With loud exclamations of approval, I asked the crowd to stand and remove their hats, and invited anyone with an American flag to join me up on the stage. As hundreds came to their feet, about a dozen individuals- older women, fathers, children- joined me up on the stage with their flags waving. Together, we put our hands on our hearts and sang a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.

With the song over, I thanked the crowd, took a polite bow, and made my way back up to my seat in the back next to David. A security guard came over and asked me for my name and address so the Museum could send me a thank you note. We left shortly thereafter- the storm cleared up, and we ended up enjoying a most magnificent fireworks show in front of the reflecting pool- but for the rest of the day, I could not get the smile off my face, nor will I ever forget the wonderful opportunity I took to turn frustration into celebration this July 4th in the Holocaust Museum.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Learning to Blog

Today Adam suggested that I create a blog And since I always listen to my children, here it is.
I have called my blog, "A Tale of Four Cities," as our family will be spread out over Boston, Philadelphia, D.C, and of course, Miami this year.
Feel free to send comments and help. And as my dear friend Richard always says, "the delete key is your friend," so if you don't want to read this, feel free to delete!