Life at the Theater: Zorlu Center

We’ve finished our second week of shows and I’m getting the gist of how our daily routine will be on tour. The weekday shows have a call time for the cast of 7:30pm.  We go in a little earlier to homeschool.  It gives us plenty of time for sightseeing during the day.  I would try to get some done at the hotel, but the concentration in the room is not there and there isn’t the space to work.  I’m surprised by how little time homeschooling (when they get down to it) takes.

I’m regretting the curriculum I chose and I’m modifying it to suit the girls needs. Math I’m sticking to for both girls. It’s common core and exactly what they’ll need to know when they re-enter the school system. The reading comprehension for Olivia, I find a little basic. I’m not going to go too crazy about that. She has enough to do, but I have asked her to take a little more time on her personal reading. For Olivia’s composition, I’m not going to follow the course. It asks to create web planners and write about things like, what’s your favorite food? or what do you like to do? Instead, I’m having her write about the tour, places we see, history, language and food in each country. I was going to forget the history book completely. It’s covers each era in a page and a half.  We’re covering history in way more depth on this tour, but she likes the book. It takes her about 30 minutes a couple of times a week, so she wants to keep it up.  Science, we’re following, but honestly, I didn’t like science the first time around and it hasn’t changed.

For Eliana’s reading and comprehension I’m sticking with the curriculum.  She only made it into her grade by a few days. She’s the youngest in the class and definitely needing more help. We’ve already had our fair share of outbursts from her getting frustrated.  Composition was proving to be a real problem.  She would be asked to write a story and given a list of subjects.  She just couldn’t even start. She just kept crying that she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t think of anything to write. I just threw my hands up and said “forget writing about these subjects, just write about anything you want to”  Again, she said she couldn’t think of anything. I suggested other subjects and tried to start her off, but then she got annoyed and said that it was my story.  We both got really frustrated and I just wanted to pull my hair out.  I told Clare about this.  The next day Clare came into our room and told Eliana her walls in her office were too bare,  She needed some artwork and stories for her wall.  Eliana sat down and instantly wrote a story with a drawing to accompany it.  Creative and neat! Why didn’t I think of that? Now she has been given the task of writing stories for the other walls. She’s kept this up daily and we’re all enjoying her stories.  Olivia loves writing fiction, so she’s started writing a story about each character in Shrek before they were evicted from Duloc.

The dressing room has become a very multi functional room.  It’s now been transformed into an airport. Boxes have been arranged as aircraft and members of cast and crew have been coming to take flight to the girls new land called “The Land of Doey”.   It’s hysterical to see full grown adults squeezed into little boxes taking the ever so fast ride ;).  I love this about theater people. They can continue to play as children so easily. In fact, it’s hard to tell who was enjoying the ride more.  There are refreshments served and in flight entertainment.

Backstage also has it’s fair share of fun.  Olivia plays clapping games with crew just before she goes on stage. Eliana loves being backstage and knows the entire show, she likes to sing the opening quietly into my ear.  She’s also likes to bring the wig backstage for Olivia’s quick change and to return the wireless mic at the end of the show.  By far my favorite part of being backstage are the moments Olivia and the Assistant Stage Manager, Shelby, have together.  After Olivia has her quick change back to Young Fiona for bows, I leave her stage right and head over to stage left where she’ll come off.  I watch them both dancing together for the final song. It’s so entertaining.  They look like they’re absolutely loving it!

I do love watching Olivia from the sidelines. At nine years old it’s wonderful to see how professional she has become.  She always asks me how her performance was. She’s so consistent, she really doesn’t need to worry, but it’s good that she does… I guess.

Advertisements

MiniaTurk

 

A wonderful opening weekend.  The show is absolutely amazing!  Now we have a much needed day off! It’s been 9 days since we had a day off and we’ve been in the theater for eleven hour days. I was thinking maybe we would just lay in bed watching movies, but they’ve had a lot of sitting around watching Netflix while in the dressing room. They need air. We all had a great sleep. In bed at 11:30pm and slept through till 11:30am.

We decided to take a trip to MiniaTurk.  It’s a park with 122 model structures of sights around Istanbul and the rest of Turkey.  The girls were expecting them to be a lot smaller than they were. As soon as they saw the park they were so excited.  There was a maze which they loved finding their way out of and a playground too.  Olivia was so interested in the history of the buildings.  There was certainly more than they could absorb, but it really was a good place to see before seeing some of these buildings in actual scale.  They also had a simulated helicopter ride which we went on.  It was in two segments.  The first being Istanbul and the second Turkey.  We were the only people in there. Not at all like the Empire State Sky Ride, or Disney, where we would’ve lined up for hours. As we passed different buildings on the ride the girls would say “we just saw that” with excitement. We took a taxi back to the hotel.

Both girls wanted Chinese. I asked the front desk if there was one close.  There was one only a few doors away.  We had a good meal there and it was super cheap, not that Chinese is expensive anywhere.  We had a nice evening in watching The Witches and an early night to sleep.

Opening Night

Finally, after an exhausting tech, it’s opening night.  Last night we finished tech at 11pm.  We were told we would be getting the bus back to the theater at 10:30am.  Olivia almost burst into tears.  She was so tired and she really doesn’t do well with not enough sleep.  I know some kids who are fine with little sleep and I think that goes for most of the kids in this industry, but it’s definitely not the case with Olivia and one of the only things that makes me thinks she’s not well suited for the life of the child actress.  Also, for the past two days she’s just not eating properly. She’s lost her appetite, but get’s hungry when it’s impossible for me to get her anything other than junk (muffins, cookies), so by the time she can eat a proper meal again, she’s not hungry.

I woke Olivia up at 9:30am for breakfast and to get ready for the bus.  As I had thought, there really was no need for us to be there.  She wasn’t needed till final dress rehearsal at 3pm.  I really wish I had played the mommy card and said she needed to sleep to be at her best for opening night.  Olivia wouldn’t eat lunch, but halfway through dress rehearsal said she was hungry and needed a snack, but didn’t want a meal. I got her a chocolate muffin.  By the time the dress rehearsal ended she just couldn’t stay awake and had a headache. Eliana and I left her in the dressing room to take a nap. She didn’t want any medicine for her headache.  When I came back an hour later I knew we had a problem.  Olivia had zero energy, looked miserable and I could tell her head really hurt. I made her take some advil, but I knew this ends up with only a couple of outcomes.  She either needs to sleep for an extended period, or she’s going to throw up.  I spoke with Clare, but Olivia told her she will make it on stage no matter what.  We were one song before Olivia was due to go on stage (Duloc) and she suddenly threw up. It was like a horror movie and covered nearly the entire bathroom.  I’ve never seen anything like that. It was all over her dress and her tights.  Eliana ran for help, but somehow managed to stay backstage chatting. I realized she wasn’t coming back, so I called Lindsay (Fiona) from the dressing room next to us.  I really didn’t want to bother her.  A minute later we had wardrobe in the dressing room and the tour manager.  I cleaned Olivia up as best I could and off she went to the stage.  The thing about Olivia when she gets like that, is that as soon as she’s thrown up, she’s completely back to normal.  She managed to perform beautifully, despite the major wardrobe malfunction.  As soon as she came off stage wardrobe took the dress away to clean.  It appeared again after half time, perfect…Magic!  The rest of the show went just fine for Olivia. She played Grumpy, and took her bow.

There was an opening night party.  Olivia and of course Eliana, didn’t want to miss that.  I said they could go for a little while, but they needed to get back to the hotel to sleep.  The girls wore beautiful dresses and felt like princesses when they walked into the lounge vibe party.  It was a beautiful event.  Not at all for kids.  Eliana commented “this is not a kids party” I don’t know what she was expecting.  We stayed for about thirty minutes and went back to the hotel to bed. Not at all the opening I would’ve liked for Olivia, but it all worked out in the end.

Press Day

It’s only a couple of days till the show opens and today we had what’s called Press Day.  Different media outlets came to take photos, video and interview some cast members, the creative and production team.  Olivia performed I Know It’s Today. Last night they changed the blocking.  I think they felt with Olivia being so tiny she wasn’t being seen properly standing behind the balcony wall, so now she’s sitting on it.  I think it looks fabulous, but of course I worry that with last minute changes she’ll forget. No idea why I can’t just mentally let go and let her do her thing, of course she remembers.  She performed beautifully and I was a very proud mommy.  I can’t wait to see the photos and video they release. There’s a great buzz in the theater now. I love hearing the live orchestra.

It was another long day of tech, in the theater till 11pm.  It really is exhausting, the waiting for things to get done.  I’m pretty techie, but if you’re not actually doing something, it’s just a drawn out process.  We had to get more homeschooling done. It’s so hard to get the girls motivated to learn when they could be sitting front of house watching, but they have to do it.  They love sitting behind the sound board and the sound techs are very entertaining, letting them press a button to make fart noises.  How can I win against that?  I’ve told them we need to be smart about allocating the homeschooling time while we’re at the theater, so we can see as much of Istanbul when we’re not.

Our First Day Off

It’s been a week since we left and wow, did that fly by!  Today was our first day off.  I woke up at 8:15am after my usual going to sleep at 2am. I was so annoyed with myself, I fell back to sleep pretty quickly.  I woke again at 11:30am to the maid knocking at the door.    I jumped up and rushed the girls to wake up. Our plans were to go to the Prince’s Islands.  It’s a full day trip.  You take a 55 minute boat ride. There are no cars on the island, so you travel around either by foot, cycling or horse and carriage. Clare, the company manager, was coming with us.  She had emailed saying there were thunderstorms expected, so it was probably best not to go today.  I suggested the aquarium.

We met Clare in the lobby at 12:30pm. We jumped in a taxi having no idea how far the aquarium was.  I showed the Taxi driver where we were going on my phone.  We were driving for so long, both Clare and I wondered if we were being taken out of the country and our relatives would here of us being kidnapped.  I had no idea Istanbul was so big, or that  the traffic was so bad.  I was watching the taxi meter go higher and higher.  65 Turkish Lire later we were there.  It still sounded like so much money to me, but really that was only about $25.  If we went that distance in NY it would probably be closer to $65 not Turkish Lire.  Clare and I hadn’t eaten yet, so we grabbed lunch over looking the Marmara Sea,  The aquarium was absolutely amazing! without a doubt the best aquarium I’ve been to.  There were fish above us, below us, all around us and it seemed to go on forever.  This was the perfect way to spend the day off and I killed two birds with one stone. This weeks science enrichment was to go to an aquarium.

We’re back in the hotel room.  The kids are watching Netflix.  We’re just going to relax tonight, Back to tech tomorrow. I’m not sure if we’ll have another day off before the opening, which would bring us to the following Monday, but we shall see.

Tonight has been another battle, this time regarding sleeping arrangements.  We have a double bed and a sofa which is kinda like a daybed.  At home, even when Olivia would come in to lay with me, she will never stay there to sleep.  She loves her space. Our bedroom is like a sauna and she likes to be cool. Eliana, on the other hand, loves to sleep next to me and would be as close as she could. I don’t allow this very often. I think it creates bad habits and I like my space too. Anyway, it seemed to make the most sense that Olivia have the daybed.  Eliana made such a huge fuss about this, so on the first night I said that on the nights that Olivia doesn’t have a rehearsal, or a show, Eliana could have the daybed. Last night Eliana got the daybed. Well it backfired on her.  Olivia loved sleeping bed with me. I said to Olivia “that wasn’t so bad was it?” She said, “no, I loved it” Eliana jumped up and down with joy and said she was keeping the daybed  Of course, now Eliana wants to be back in bed with me, so they had a fight about it.  I had pretty much fallen asleep with them watching a movie and they woke me up, You can imagine how annoying that was.  after having all three of us in one bed and me getting more and more irritated, Olivia said she would go to the daybed so that I could have some peace.  Thank you, Olivia. Well now I’m wide awake and sitting writing again,  On a side note, I bought a small bottle of the Turkish drink Raki to try.  I had some earlier.  It was absolutely disgusting and honestly should be thrown out, but right now it may save me and send me back to sleep. Night night!

Tech

Yesterday was the first day I felt like we were settling into a routine.  We did manage to find the outside playground. It was a little wet.  We were there for all of 10 minutes playing before I heard screaming coming from Eliana, there was blood on her face.  Thank goodness it wasn’t as bad as it looked.  A little graze on her chin and cut from her tooth on her lip.  Never a dull moment.

Olivia  was fitted with her wig yesterday too.   The first part of transforming to Young Fiona.  Eliana wants to be in the show so much. She’s been pin curling her hair and jumping around in the dwarf costume.  It’s definitely a little challenging making sure she feels as much part of this and Olivia is really not helpful fighting with her because she keeps taking her stuff.  I can’t be too mad at Olivia. It would annoy me too, but she does have to make Eliana feel as good as she can.

Today was the first day of tech.  I’m so very tired.  24/7 with the kids, being mom, teacher, chaperone, child wrangler and no “me” time is definitely harder than I thought it would be.  My brain feels exhausted.  Mainly from tearing them apart I think.  My night gigs and time they’re usually in school are really good breaks.

We arrived at the theater at 12pm.  Olivia got into costume and we went to the front of house.  Olivia is in the first scene.  That was over pretty quickly.  We spend the entire day waiting for her next scene, which is scene 6.  It’s now 9pm and she still hasn’t gone on again.  I gave them the day off homeschooling so they could watch.  I thought they could do with day out of the dressing room.  We came back to the dressing room for a little break and now they’re fighting again, so I’m blocking them out and writing.

We’re OK!

We slept so late today, I was woken by my brother, Richard, trying to FaceTime me.  I ignored the call since I was still trying to sleep, but he called back straight away, so I knew it was important.  He told me there was an explosion by the Blue Mosque and he was checking we were ok. Luckily the girls slept so late we didn’t fit in any morning site seeing.  There were messages from the Shrek Group checking everyone was accounted for and saying that management and security would be holding a meeting to address our security going forward. The cast members playing Shrek, Donkey, Farquad, Teen Fiona and one of the three little pigs happened to go site seeing.  They were going to the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque.  Fortunately, they went to the Grand Bazaar first. Everyone was accounted for and safe.  We were meant to take the shuttle later in the day, but with he heightened security they felt it better we leave with the rest of the cast for the Zorlu Center.  It’s very safe there. Metal detectors and security everywhere.

When we arrived at the Zorlu center our security explained our procedures.  Olivia was a little freaked out and doesn’t want to go to any of the sites now, especially the Grand Bazaar, but it’s hard to feel like we’re anywhere unsafe at all. The people could’t be nicer and the Zorlu center is so modern. Not at all what you picture Middle Eastern terrorists being a part of.  The cast went to rehearse and we went to eat and to see what the mall was like. It is absolutely the most beautiful and huge mall I’ve ever seen. It has an amazing playground by the photos, but despite four trips from the theater to the mall we couldn’t find it. Everyone kept directing us to an inside play center. The play center was incredible with a jungle gym, Laser Quest. Karaoke and Arcade, but we were on a mission to find the outside playground. It’s still relatively warm here.

By 5:30pm we came back to the theater and were given our dressing room/homeschooling room.  It’s lovely.  Olivia feels like a star having her own dressing room.  We managed to get the days homeschooling done.  It was so much easier in that space without distractions.  They didn’t end up needing Olivia today. We came back at 10pm, had a late dinner and retired to our room. I’m hoping to finish the “getting ready” video tonight while the girls are sleeping.

IMG_7551