Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Open Heaven....Part I

Every year, I ask God what his theme is for me for the new year. For 2011 it was "Open Heaven." What this meant, based on some other things that God had been sharing with me, was that 2011 was to be a year full of blessings pouring down from heaven, as if it was opened up and the goodness couldn't help but drop from above. I felt that he was going to bless me in some specific ways related to my theatrical pursuits, which he did. As 2012 is dawning, I want to take a few moments to acknowledge some of the wonderful things God did in relation to opening heaven for me this past year. 2011 began somewhat dry, having experienced a flurry of activity the previous fall related to workshopping my new kids musical, King David: LIVE! through what I called the "Pre-Premiere Performance Tour." We weren't going to begin rehearsals for the full production of King David: LIVE! until sometime in March of 2011, so there was a gap of time where seemingly nothing was going on creatively. However, where a few months prior I got to taste a flurry, God has a full-on BLIZZARD in store for me, and he prophesied it through an ACTUAL BLIZZARD in February, on Groundhog Day. Blizzard------> Open Heaven? YES INDEED! Some of my readers may know that I have prayed for snow for many years from a very early age, having lived in Houston, Texas (land of no snow) for much of my growing up life. So when a blizzard came to Chicago earlier this year, I couldn't help but proudly claim the blame for it. I had been praying for snow for years, even a blizzard at different times, and God just decided to dump it on me in a city that could handle it. Houston would have been shut down for weeks if not more, had something like this occurred there. So there was that. And I LOVED it. Open Heaven #1. Open Heaven#2: God gave me my first theatrical team here in Chicago. Inviting Chris Leck aboard for the King David: LIVE! workshops was a first step in this direction back in the Fall of 2010, but when I turned the show into a three-person piece and Kylie Edmonds came aboard, the magic number 3 made it feel more official. I had my first team of theatre artists who were going to help me get a show up in Chicago, and my first full, professional play at that. I was so excited. Open Heaven#3: After much rehearsing, we still needed to gather our materials for props, costumes, set, etc. to get King David: LIVE! up and running. God gave me a very fun and talented costume designer in Kylie, with whom I went rummaging through clothing racks at thrift stores and a few other places to find affordable, workable costume solutions. A director friend of mine just happened to have a pipe and drape system that we were able to borrow, and Chris, my other actor, still had a solid drop that he had made for a previous show. When we set that drop up for the first time in my apartment with the pipe system, I knew what was coming next....We were really going to premiere this thing. Time for Open Heaven #4. Open Heaven #4: God graciously provided me with the right connections and direction to go for professional advertisement of the show, and that combined with further grace resulted in a SELL-OUT house for the premiere performance of King David: LIVE! at Gorilla Tango Theatre. My first fully finished production, professionally produced, and the first performance sold out! How perfect, how very gracious of my God to do this for me! We actually had to turn people away because there were no more seats available. The following performance did not sell out, but we still broke even for that premiere weekend, and the whole experience felt like such a reward and gift. Odd combination I suppose, but that's how it felt. Open Heaven #5: As part of the advertising campaign, my friend Joel McGinty crafted a very nice video promo for me for King David: LIVE! At a time of discouragement when there was little activity in January and February, seeing this promo further bolstered my hope and faith that this was a production that was about to take flight and was worth going after this year. Open Heaven #5: My brother Joshua who helped me move to Chicago over 3 years ago got to visit me for the first time since the relocation, and he was able to witness all of the blessing being poured out on me. He took part in that himself, and it was very good to have him. Open Heaven #6: My brother Ivan's wife, Rachel, made a professional website for me to further promote King David: LIVE! You can see it at Open Heaven #7: After premiering KDL in May, we got a professional booking at a local community center two weeks later, and we were also able to do a mini performance at a private school that just happened to have a HUGE, professional theatre space. We're talking raked seating, wireless mic system, the works. I believe this was a foretaste of bookings to come. Open Heaven #8: In September, we launched a huge campaign to further promote bookings of KDL in schools, churches, synagogues, and anywhere else that may want to awaken heroes and history makers in the next generation (that's the purpose of the show in its broad scope). While this second weekend of performances did not do as well as the opening weekends in terms of ticket sales, it provided my team and I the opportunity to develop the show further, adding some new and better costumes and props, fine-tuning our performances, and we got some additional photos and video to use on the KDL website as well. Additionally, we were able to make some important connections with institutions that may prove to be an important bridge builder for future performances of the show down the line, including one at a Willow Creek church this coming year, 2012. Open Heaven #9...I am going to have to continue this in a part two, as I about to celebrate the closing of 2011 and dawning of 2012. There are just too many blessings from 2011 to list in this short amount of time. Keep watch for part II! See you in 2012!