I think I might have broken the rules…oops.
I found this Pin on Mom’s Comfort Food (my go to board lately…for obvious reasons) page for Shepard’s Pie. I took one look at it and said, “yum, I can do that.” When I say I took one look at I mean I took one look at the photo…not the actual recipe. Here is the link for the recipe because honestly it looks amazing…I just did not actually use it. Again…oops.
Shepard’s Pie Recipe(that I am sure is amazing)
I am typically a rule follower. But, in this instance I felt the need to just act. To do things my way. I went to my fridge and pantry and pulled out everything I felt like I needed to make this work. And, it did work…I made a Shepard’s Pie. It was lovely but, it was not this pin. I used ground lamb(such a delicious alternative to the typical beef), onions, garlic, mashed potatoes, celery, carrots and a can of Le Sueur Peas (because according to my Grandma and Mom these are the only canned peas that should exist). I layered that bad boy up and baked it at 350 for 45 mins. It was incredible…
This made me pause…what a Mom thing to do. She was always able to create with what she had, she always did things her way, she interpreted the rules with her own unique vision. That’s when it hit me. Rules…Smules. This project is mine. Mine to interpret however I see fit. I write the rule-book. Just like Mom did.
This inspired me to pose a question to the Facebook world and the response was amazing. This was my question:
‘My Mom was known for her unique directing vision. Is there a certain show, scene, or piece that she interpreted differently than you had seen before or than you had interpreted it yourself?’
Honestly, I did not know what I would get back…I had a few ideas of my own answer to the question. But, it was nothing in comparison to the response I got.
Answers starting with the amazing way she literally had dreams that inspired her productions;
“I know I was always envious that she had such creative dreams!” –Robby Owenby
To the way she unapologetically changed major pieces of literature (Dickens) to give a character and a plot more depth;
“The ending of ‘Oliver!’, when she had Bet kill Bill Sikes.” -Beth Propst
The way she used seemingly contrasting styles to tell a very traditional story in a new way;
“The giant surreal panels we created for the one act version of Fiddler on the Roof. It was abstract but worked for the show.” –Lainey Kennedy
“I have such fondness for the bright and alpine version of fools we did for one act, it was so over the top.” –Mallory Nonnemaker
“A Midsummer Nights Dream set in the summer of love 1960’s Hiaght-Ashbury.” –Jan Ewing
The way she always challenged her students and everyone she worked with to see things from a different perspective;
“The telephone scene from Bye Bye Birdie was one of my favorites. She took a different take on it using ladders. It was a fun challenge to choreograph. Gail’s vision was amazing!”-Matt Paul
“My favorite show Gail directed while at Johnson was Fools. She had a way of making sure every scene painted an interesting picture.”-Jody Tuso-Key
The way she designed amazing and creative sets that gave the audience a chance to connect in a new way:
“The set was gorgeous for The Miracle Worker. Complete with working water pump. And, Les Mis was delivered again with like every odd piece of furniture we could pull from the sheds at Bob’s.” –Jan Ewing
“ALL THE DREAM SETS!” –Mallory Nonnemaker
“When she staged Oliver in the round at SNCA way back in the early ’90’s.” –Debbie Phillips
“The set for Diviners. It was furniture and water and mountains. It blended together and was used each way.” -Christian Mims-Wolfe
“My all time favorite is still “Children of Eden”. Loved the fact that it actually rained on stage!” –Beverly Autry
The way she encouraged others (cast, crew, and audiences alike) to learn more about themselves and the world around them through her directing style. Every moment was a teachable moment;
“I loved that we modernized Godspell when we did it, and even had a “thug” with a gun for John the Baptist. It was such a POWERFUL show. I’m not a religious person but the intense emotion that she evoked from us all made me cry during every performance. Also, she let me play a character that was basically me….tattoos, colorful everything, piercings, and all. “ –Heather Crews
“Gail had a special way of taking a show and putting a unique twist on it to make it fit the cast, space, and community. She believed in everyone of us and would cast in roles that often stretched us. She believed in us (even if it took some pretty stern words to make us believe) and she truly never gave up. I can remember coming into many of the early rehearsals and talking with Gail and she would always say “this set design came to me in a dream” and she would’ve sat down and sketched it out and it would be perfect. Gail also had a way of putting lots of people on stage and making it seem like the most natural thing that could ever happen. It is definitely a gift. One of the things I look back on and laugh at is when she had this vision of us writing a musical revue based on the different grade levels in school. We all thought it was going to be a disaster but with her guidance the show was a huge money maker because she used students from classes in each grade level and incorporated them into the show…….. Which in return brought parents to the theatre and tickets were sold!!! It is amazing to look back on the opportunities she created for all of us to have the experience of being in well directed shows. She was definitely a talented lady who inspired many of us through her visions, dreams, craft, and love!”
“To be honest, I always thought that what made Gail’s vision so special was not how differently she could approach things but how truthfully. I remember the consideration of the word “nigger” during Big River and the way she struggled with it’s use. She opened up the discussion to the cast and allowed us to inform her. In the end, she (bravely, I thought) decided to leave the word as it was. More than anything, it was clear that she understood that her shows would have an effect on the people who saw them and it mattered to her what happened on stage and what story she would tell to them. I think that’s what made her vision so special and different from other high school drama teachers I met. She understood that at every level: community or professional, theatre would matter to someone in those seats, if not everyone, and she took responsibility for her visions. More than I can say for so many directors working at ANY level in this profession.” –Will Bradley
Talk about feeling all the feels. After getting responses like this I felt silly comparing my silly Shepard’s Pie experience to Mom’s lifetime of amazing creativity. But, that is what I am doing here. I am staying connected to my Mom and at the same time I am learning how to live with out her.
That little moment of guiding myself. Of creating something from scratch without a recipe, without a rule-book, without her telling me what to do. That moment of taking inspiration and finding my own interpretation. That moment of taking control in the kitchen and finding my own way. That moment is what this journey is all about.