Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ready for the London Olympic Games

The Summer Olympics, also known as the Games of the Olympiad grace us with its presence every four years. It's finally back and set to kick off this Friday, July 27, 2012 with what I expect to be a fabulous opening ceremony. I'm not sure if it will top Beijing's 2008 games, but I'm ready to watch them try. I'm ready for the Games of the XXX Olympiad (the official title).

When I was a kid I used to think four years was forever, not these days. I always look forward to the summer games and my anticipation for the March of Nations continues to grow now that we are just two days away. When Karim and I break fast this Friday, we'll be watching opening ceremonies.

I'm not sure why I have such a fascination with the games, but part of me believes it's because we get to see the best athletes compete on a world stage representing their country. Go team USA!! Although U.S. athletes are my top priority, I am also inspired by the story profiles I see of athletes from other nations. So much personal sacrifice goes into being an Olympian. The work to get there is admirable and I consider all of the athletes winners even if they don't medal.

I'm glad to hear that Saudi Arabia will include women athletes for the first time. With this change, every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympic games. It's progress. Maybe this will encourage the women of Saudi Arabia and of other nations to seek the rights they deserve in their home countries - it does for me.

I wonder if it's coincidence that the summer games always fall during an election cycle in the U.S. It's only July and I'm pretty fed up with the election media coverage. The summer games are a welcome reprieve. My favorites to watch are gymnastics, diving, beach volleyball, tennis, basketball, swimming, and track and field. However, I'll also check out some of the more obscure sports like hurling, polo, synchronized swimming, power lifting, and bowling. I plan to get social with updates and posts on Facebook and Twitter.

If you don't plan to watch, you should. Oscar award winning director Danny Boyle is the artistic director for the opening ceremony and is called "The Isles of Wonder" (had to squeeze in a film tidbit). Wikipedia also notes that Sir Paul McCartney will perform toward the end.

Records will be broken, while memories and history will be made. May the games bring out the best in all of us. Enjoy. I know I will.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gearing Up for Grafton, Vermont

The Grafton country side
Since my last post I've been trying to adjust to my new reality of being laid-off. One new development is that I can keep my job, but in order to do so I have to relocate to Baltimore. Just as I got used to feeling one way about this transition a game-changer comes into play. At this point I'm still considering my options and am trying not to stress out to much.

On a more positive news front, I'm excited to report that I'm done with my summer courses. I don't have my grades yet, but I think I should be getting an A in both courses. I should know for sure in a little over a week. I am so relived that I have five weeks without reading course materials, posting to Blackboard, and writing papers. IT FEELS GOOD! I will get to read books and watch television shows and films for enjoyment and enteratinment. Netflix is about to get kicked into high gear.

To celebrate and recognize this small achievement, I will be having dinner at Puerta Vallarta in Southington with my husband, sister, and mom tonight. On Sunday, Karim and I will drive to the village of Grafton, Vermont to enjoy a few days away from life as we know it. No home renovations, no school, just the two of us. While we're away we'll be staying at the Grafton Inn. It's one of the oldest inns in America, established in 1801. I got a killer deal for two nights through the shopping website Rue La La. You can get deals on clothes, shoes, home decor, luggage, spas, and even travel. Let me know if you want a friend referral to the site.
The Grafton Inn

The inn is also a member of Historic Hotels of America and is noted as being a sanctuary from the everyday world. This is just what the doctor ordered.

I really to take some time to relax and recharge. I'm gearing up from Grafton, Vermont, and couldn't be happier. Stay tuned for highlights from the trip! Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Emerging Women Series: Interview with Kimberly Wilson

Kimberly Wilson
Courtesy of Anthony Cork Photography
Back in February, I had the privilege of meeting and working with Kimberly Wilson for the ProduceHERS'  staged reading of Quarter Year Dilemmas. Originally from Minneapolis, MN, Kimberly first pursued theater while in high school, after studying Theater at Howard University, she returned home and continued her acting career performing in plays and television commercials. Wilson has written a one-woman show, "A Journey..." which she tours in and around Fairfield county Connecticut.

Q: Where did you receive your acting training?
A: My acting 'training' continues to come from unique and diverse forms and experiences.  When I was nine years old, I took drama at Cultural Arts Center in Minneapolis. I later attended the Minneapolis Children’s Theater School Summer Institute. In 1976, I was a founding acting company member of Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. More 'training' was hands-on experience performing in the Minnneapolis Community Theaters: At the Foot of the Mountain, Brass Tacks Theater, Illusion Theater, Minnesota Festival Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Park Square Theater, Theatre in the Round, Penumbra Theatre, and Shoestring Playhouse. And these Connecticut theaters: Collective Consciouness Theater, New Haven Theater Company, and Theatre Artists Workshops. I believe acting training and education is lifelong; not only through my personal life, but also learned through the many opportunities and experiences of working with a myriad of actors, directors, producers, designers, technical crews, costumers, musicians, theater administers, and the viewing audiences as well.
Q: How have the fundamentals you learned served your career as an artist?
A: The 'fundamentals' are a relative term. I feel the best lessons I've learned are to truly listen, observe and receive people and environments and experiences to there fullest. These lessons not only serve me as an actress, singer, writer and director but also in everyday life.

Kimberly performing in "A Journey...".

         Courtesy of G. Anthony Cork Photograph
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to write, produce, and direct your one-woman show?
A: The past four years I found the urgency to build a performance piece that would incorporate more of my acting and singing talents so I added historical narratives of an African Queen, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and my own personal story and thus began "A JOURNEY..." by Kimberly Wilson. I decided to write a play with music that would provide educational and entertainment value.  I included historical narratives of an African Queen, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, Sojourner Truth and her work fighting for the rights of slaves and women’s rights, Rosa Parks and her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott; Maya Angelou and her struggles and legacies as an artist, teacher, poet and historian; and I include facets of my own story, my journey of how I got here.  “A JOURNEY…” is now a full-stage production that normally runs about an hour and a half. My show mixes movement, recitation, singing, dancing and audience participation as well.This full-stage production is an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half integrating movement, recitation, performance, singing, dancing, and audience participation. I premiered it last year at the Theatre Artists Workshop (TAW) in Norwalk, Connecticut and performed it again this year during Black History Month at TAW. This year my effort is to continue touring my one-woman show and not limit this wonderful story to just one month of performances. My additional effort is to continue researching historical African American women and weave them in and out of "A JOURNEY..." Prayerfully I will be able to write, sing, dance, and perform throughout my 'retirement' years.

Q: How do you sustain your creative motivation?
A: This is a good question. I truly feel what sustains me and motivates me is not limited to one simple explanation. I truly feel and believe that I have a gift to give and a song to sing and a story to tell. I also feel that my unique style and voice and welcoming way with my audiences, all help explain what motivates me. I have a passion that is in my heart. I love to sing... I love to act... I love the 'stage'... I love the theater... Deep down I am at peace because I know that this is what I'm supposed to do. I love my life...God has blessed me and I'm grateful.

Q: Can you share a creative challenge that was a worthwhile learning experience?
A: Life itself is a creative challenge - don't you agree? Living IS learning. And all of it is worthwhile.

Q: How do you define success?  
A: Success is such a personal term. What may be deemed successful to one person may not be considered a success for another. Personally and professionally I find the more I mature, the more I live, the more life obstacles I overcome, the more joys I share, the more blessings I receive, the less I try to define my life.  I'm happy. I'm working to really uplift what I believe is good and great in my life – family, faith, community, hope, service, and love.

Q: What key piece of advice would you give to aspiring artists? 
A: I think the best advice is: Make the choices and receive those opportunities that reflect what is true and real in your heart, in your spirit, in your soul. This will reflect in your everyday commitments and passions and will shine upon everyone whose lives you come in contact. 

Q: Tell us about any upcoming project(s) we should be on the look out for. 
A: My one-woman show "A JOURNEY..." by Kimberly Wilson. I recently performed “A JOURNEY…” at the Walter’s Memorial AME Zion Baptist Church in Bridgeport, CT.  It was an awe inspiring experience, truly a journey that I will never forget. The next scheduled date is Friday, August 3, 2012 at The Capri Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The tour continues and I welcome booking dates. Feel free to contact me via email; or 203.571.7709. My new website is www.thewilsonproductions.comAaliyah, again thank you for this interview opportunity.