What do you guys do when you're not performing?
Yeah, we wonder the same thing sometimes. But we did want to take a few minutes to try and give you an idea what it looks like to be Charlie & Ruth (and no, the photo above is not them). First, let us say that there is not a normal day, a normal week, a normal month. You might say our lives are a bit peculiar.
What You Believe is What You Do
You cannot separate what we do from what we believe. We believe that Jesus came to earth to die and bring salvation to humankind. And in turn, it is up to His people to love their neighbors like He loves them. And guess what? Love is terribly ineffecient. Love means taking time to listen. Love means going places and doing things that aren't really pragmatic but will give someone a smile or support or encouragement. Woody Allen once said, "Ninety per cent of life is just showing up." That is true for those attempting to live a life of loving others.
Christmas Show Activity
I tell you these generalities about our lives because it is difficult to list or even remember what we do from day to day. So I will cover some events in recent days to give you an idea. On the first of November, we turned our attention to our annual Christmas show. Auditions were sent out. Several evenings set aside to meet with those wanting to auditon. Once audtions were set there was the task of finding a pianist who would be available for auditions. We then began the process of rewriting our show to match our objectives for this year's production, i.e. a script for a cast with some diversity. Writing for me, Charlie, has become less cumbersome and less dreaded than in past years. But it has not become faster... so I slowly come up with a new script. In the meantime, Ruth is scouring the web and stores for new Victorian music, poems and stories to add to our show. A tentative rehearsal schedule is drawn up for those coming to audition.
Auditions take place on two evenings and a cast is almost chosen. We have most of what we need but we really need a very strong voice to "carry the show." We start calling, emailing and cajoling everyone who might have a clue where to find our "voice." Once the "voice" is found we begin rehearsals three nights a week and on Saturday. Towards the end of the month this changes to every night and Saturday. During the days, we must design and print flyers for the show. We meet with a local paper about advertising. Downtown Greensboro, Inc. contacts us to see if we will be doing anything for "Festival of Lights" — our city-wide Christmas celebration and lighting of the Christmas tree. We meet on what we can do and how to produce it for the city. Ruth begins hauling boxes out of the basement for Christmas decorating — which will be an 8-hour a day job for the next three weeks. The website is changed and re-designed to advertise the Christmas show. Rehearsals are now 6 days a week, lasting to 11 o' clock at night many nights. In the daytime, I begin work on the Christmas fundraiser "The Evangelically Correct Christmas Gift Catalog." This is a major time-consumer and takes days to complete. (By the way, if you did not get one this year, financially we had to curtail this mailing which in the past has cost about $4000 to print and mail. So we only sent Catalogs to the top 500 givers. We did all the printing on our copier. We folded and stuffed the envelopes ourselves rather than send them out to a mail house.) During this same time we were attempting to launch a Kickstarter fund raising campaign, including video, copy for the webstie, etc. This is still in process.
Finally the show begins. Every night we invite 50-60 guests into our home. We prepare hors d'oeuvres, cheese plates, cookies, mulled cider, hot chocolate and literally dozens of other treats for each evening's guests. The guests partake of our treats, watch the show, they leave, then the cast leaves and we are home alone by 10:30 or 11:00. We go to bed and rise to start the process over again the next day starting at about 10:00am.
But this is not a normal month. We don't have this kind of project every month. But it does give you an idea of how we go about producing other shows about 3-4 times a year. And why do we do these shows? To make lots o' money? Not with a "theatre" that only holds 50 people per night. To be able to act? Well, we do like that but that is not THE reason. THE reason is to bring joy to our community. (See blog post on this year's Christmas show.) Whenever we produce a show, we always pray with our cast members (who are willing) that we would be aware that we are giving gifts to the community and that we are creating memories that people take away in their hearts and minds.
One thing that IS normal every month is the Greensboro Grub. The Grub is the most successful event of our time here in Greensboro. When I say successful, I mean
that it brings the most joy and is one of the most fun events that most people have ever been to. And it is the most unusual. Since moving here we have "collected" dozens of friends and acquaintances by talking to them at the market, on the street or at some social gathering. We give people our card with our emai address and a description of the Grub. We ask them to email us to get on the "Grub List." There are now over 500 people on that list and when a Grub invite goes out... it fills up within 2-5 hours. The Grub goes to the heart of our mission here: to create community. You can read more about that elswhere on the site, for now we want go over some of the details of putting on a Grub. In all, the Grub is a 5-day affair. Not necessarily 5 consecutive days but definitely 5 days total time in our month. The Grub begins with setting the date, usually a Friday towards the end of the month. Then we begin the process of trying to decide on an ethnic cuisine we will be serving. Once that is chosen, about a week out from the date of the Grub, we send out the email invitation. Once the guest list is full there are lots of emails and phone calls asking for extra seats or for special consideration. This is a great problem to have but it can be a hassle at times. Moving to the Monday or Tuesday of the Grub I get in my Mini Cooper and head to Charlotte where the closest Restaurant Depot resides. If it were not for Restaurant Depot or Sam's Club — the Grub would look very different. I spend two-hours going to Charlotte and then an hour or so at the Depot and then two hours back. Once back home comes the very laborious task of carrying hundreds of pounds of groceries up three-flights of stairs. Oh, my back. This is why I wish we had about 10 teenagers to help us each month. month. By the way, that is the ONLY time I wish I had 10 teenagers around.