Collaborative Doodle

French artist Henri Matisse said, “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” I appreciate all of those characteristics and desire to foster them in my creative life. I am especially mindful of being curious and following where curiosity leads, and of indulging a love of play. 

Collaborative Doodle
Play has been foundational to my journey this year, as I seek to make life a little more tender and art a little more robust. Playing is crucial in a child’s development. Through play children learn in a relaxed environment, discovering truths about life while new information or habits are acquired. 

And play is just as important in an adult’s life, we just tend to forget that or feel playing is a waste of time. Far from being a childish activity, play develops the imagination, allows for exploration of new ideas, frees emotions, moves energy, develops self confidence, allows for social interaction and opens up new ways of thinking creatively. 

I am finding that it also helps me to continually move beyond my comfort zone! My grandson Dayan and I are playing a card game called Sneaky Cards. (Read more about this innovative and interactive game HERE). Each week, we each draw a new card, with the objective of playing the card forward before we get back together the next week. 

Collaborative Doodle
Last week, Dayan placed his chosen card in a favorite book at the library. I added my card to a Valentine’s Day display. This week Dayan will come up with a new recipe, and then pass his card on. And I drew a create card with the mission to start a collaborative doodle and pass it on. 

Collaborative Doodle

My sister Linda and I went to dinner tonight, at Chick Fil A. We craved some sister time. It was the perfect place to carry out my mission. I started a doodle and slipped the card into my hoodie pocket. 

This is the interesting part of the unique card game. I tend to hesitate when it is time to pass the card on. When I feel that reluctance to complete the mission, I know I’ve run smack into the border of my comfort zone. Playing this game is not only engaging my creativity, it is pushing me to go farther, play more, be braver. 

Every week, when Dayan and I draw new cards, we hold our breaths. We know what kinds of activities lie in wait in that innocent looking deck of cards! Some of them will definitely challenge us and push us way WAY beyond what feels comfortable. Sooner or later, we will come face to face with one of those border expanding cards and also face our discomfort. We will play on through, when that time comes, and learn and grow. 

Tonight’s mission was simple, compared to what I could have drawn. And yet when Linda and I stood to leave, I reached into my pocket, felt the card…and considered waiting for another time to play. Just then, buses arrived at Chick Fil A, unloading dozens of high school students fresh from a basketball game in town. One of them would surely add to my doodle. 

I played. I left the card.

Collaborative Doodle

You can play Sneaky Cards too! 

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Journey 262: Masked Intentions

The perfect way to conclude a beautiful Saturday, and signal the end of summer, was to attend a play written, directed and performed by a talented group of teenagers. My grandson Dayan is a member of this creative bunch and I joined other parents and grandparents with high anticipation. I was not disappointed. 


Tonight’s presentation was the culmination of months of hard work and preparation that took place over the summer. The kids do everything: create the stage, with working curtains and a backstage fashioned in the garage, make all the props and background pieces, write the script and memorize it through frequent rehearsals, and create the costuming and make up. Dayan has been part of this group for the last three years, however my understanding is that some of these kids have been doing these end of summer plays for years.  

Jessica Dean wrote and directed the play and performed the role of Melody. Mason Phillips was the backstage director. The rest of the cast was: Emma Morrell-Ezzy, Dayan Reynolds-Hevic, Adam Stokes-Malac, Claire Morrell-Jen, Ryan Dean-Sycron, Nathan Dean-Kon, Gavin Phillips-Aarone. Jessica’s parents graciously turned their garage and driveway into an outdoor theater. Folding lawn chairs on the driveway provided the perfect seats for viewing. 


My daughter Elissa, in attendance with husband Josh, explained that tonight’s play was a continuation of last year’s production, and this performance is the middle in a trilogy of stories. I missed last year’s play, but it wasn’t difficult to get caught up. In the story, a group of friends are having fun, doing what friends do…hanging out, sharing secrets, going to a masquerade dance and surprising a friend. The newcomer  to the group,  Hevic (played by Dayan), is a Russian immigrant with a sad tale that shadows his life. The friends attempt to draw him from his quiet reserve by including him in their activities. 
Contrasted with these ordinary moments in the teens’ lives is a mysterious stalker named Malac (Adam Stokes), dressed in black. His intentions are ominous as he carries on conversations via phone with an unknown (to the audience anyway) partner in crime. He fails at an attempt to kidnap two of the characters and a well done fight scene ensues. It turns out Hevic and Malac know each other from Russia. Hevic blames the man in black for his father’s death. The play ended tonight with a cliffhanger. We watched as Malac has a tense conversation on the phone, warning his unseen partner that he’s about to take control of the situation by handling matters his way. 

I loved this play! There were humorous moments, as when the characters revealed their phobias…June bugs and acorns brought chuckles, as did Hevic in a later scene when he said he was afraid of gravy. By making their fears rather laughable, I could peek at my own to find the ridiculousness there. And when Hevic gave a sad monologue about his life in Russia, soulful music began to play in the background. That cleverness brought laughs as well, the humor in the moment creating an interesting counterpoint to the sorrowful story of Hevic’s loss of his father and his flight to America. 


And the masquerade dance, with the characters sporting masks, ties in nicely with the overall story and the play’s title. One of the characters revealed that he has a fear of masks, because of what they hide underneath. All is not as it seems among these friends. And what exactly is being hidden, besides the faces of the characters?  Who is the man in black and what does he want, really? 

Alas, I will have to wait another year to find out! Well done, cast of Masked Intentions. I am more than impressed by this group of young people who put so much time and effort into these productions, simply  because they enjoy doing so. I love seeing creativity so wonderfully expressed. This is art, in its purest, truest form. It was not only entertaining to watch, but inspiring as well.  The applause and cheers were well earned and I left light hearted and enchanted. I’m looking forward to next year’s play. 

Day 89: Murder at the Howard Johnson Play


As I set off to watch this production at Joplin Little Theater, I mulled over what this play was going to be about. It was too gorgeous a spring day for a murder! I deliberately don’t read up on movies, plays or musicals before I watch so that I can enjoy the story as it unfolds. So I didn’t have any idea what this play was about. As this was the last performance today for this play, in Joplin, there will be spoilers contained in this post! If you don’t want details about Murder at the Howard Johnson, stop here.

Murder at the Howard Johnson is a two act play written by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick. It first appeared on Broadway, for a short run, in 1979. The Joplin production was directed by Jade Nichols. The cast included Marilyn Marshal-Six as Arlene Miller, Richard H. Roberts as Dr. Mitchell Lovell and new comer Roscoe Miller as Paul Miller.

The story takes place in a hotel room at the Howard Johnson Inn, in the mid 1980’s. There are three scenes: Christmas Eve, 1984, 4th of July, 1985 and New Year’s Eve, 1985/86. I was immediately impressed with the way set changes were made. The room essentially stayed the same and between scenes, maids came into the room to add or remove decorations and furniture. The room number on the door was even changed each time. Clever indeed.

In the first act we are introduced to Arlene Miller who is in the room with her dentist lover, Mitchell Lovell. They are plotting the murder of Arlene’s used car salesman husband, Paul. What ensues is a light hearted, fast paced comedy in which the intended victim and the would-be murderers change with each scene. With all thoughts of this being a dark play banished, I sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the performance. This was a humorous look at a love triangle that became a snarled knot of intrigue when it came to who was going to kill whom.

Arlene, a woman of the 80’s who is learning to think for herself, finds she has grown apart from her unromantic husband. Paul feels love is best expressed by buying his wife unimaginative gifts while Arlene’s lover, Mitchell, is all about freely expressing his love in very physical ways. None of them quite gets it right and it takes mayhem and multiple attempts at murder to discover the true nature of love and friendship.

Marilyn Marshall-Six was exquisite as Arlene and captured her sexy, air-headed nature well. I’d seen Richard H. Roberts, who portrayed the lover, Mitchell, previously in Mousetrap. He has a rich, distinctive voice and a great sense of comedic timing. This was the first performance for Roscoe Miller, who played the cheated upon husband, Paul. In his bio, Roscoe noted that he auditioned for the part to show support for his daughter who has appeared in several JLT productions. He turned in a great first performance.

This was a very physical play, with sight gags and slapstick type humor and the actors handled it superbly. There was one hilarious “blooper”. When Arlene threw a glassful of water in Paul’s face, he reacted by immediately spitting a stream of water back at her. The actors dissolved into smiles and then laughter and had to turn away for a moment to regain composure. The audience loved this and showed their delight with loud laughter and applause.

The Murder at the Howard Johnson was a fun and relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And best of all, no one died. It wasn’t quite a fairytale ending, but all did live happily ever after.