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Seven Questions: Three Bone Theatre

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Every Brilliant Thing’s Tania Kelly

This Thursday, Charlotte theater group Three Bone Theatre premiers Every Brilliant Thing, an interactive play written by Duncan Macmillan and Johnny Donahoe, directed by Robin Tynes, and starring Tania Kelly. The show runs May 17-19, and May 24-26 at the Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square in Uptown Charlotte.

Since its inception in 2012, Three Bone Theatre has been producing exceptional theatrical performances that are “socially engaged, professionally managed, and creatively inspired.”

In anticipation of Every Brilliant Thing, I asked co-founder and Artistic Director (and director of Every Brilliant Thing) Robin Tynes to talk a little bit about the history and purpose of Three Bone Theatre.

Andy Goh: The name Three Bone Theatre comes from a Reba McEntire quote. Can you explain that quote?

Robin Tynes: When Carmen Bartlett and I founded Three Bone Theatre in 2012, we were looking for a name that conveyed the types of stories we wanted to tell and reflected our own fun and fresh personalities. The quote, “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone,” guides us to pick pieces that will inspire, strengthen, and entertain our community. It’s become the foundation of our business philosophy and it’s also a great way to look at life, you need to dream big, stay strong, and be able to laugh along the way. Plus, everyone loves Reba.

AG: When selecting plays to produce, what are some of the common themes or ideas you look for?

RT: We produce the best of contemporary theatre and that involves telling complex stories that are compelling and lead our audience to explore their own humanity in a new way. We’re constantly looking for pieces that we feel are relevant to our Charlotte audiences and stories that are entertaining but may ask viewers to lean into being a little uncomfortable. We believe that theatre has the power to create a stronger and more enriched society. When we’re looking at pieces, we also look for exciting new challenges. Our upcoming piece Every Brilliant Thing is a one-person show and is interactive with the audience. We’ve never done anything quite like it before and were excited to stretch in a new way while tackling the issue of mental health. We try to use our pieces to create conversation and ask questions — but the bottom line is that it has to be entertaining. People have to want to listen to the story.

AG: For each performance, Three Bone Theatre selects a different non-profit partner. How would you describe the goals of these partnerships?

RT: Yes, our Community Partnerships started in our second season and pairs a local organization doing work that ties in thematically with each show we produce. One of the main goals is building awareness. I like being able to talk to people after seeing one of our shows that impacted them and say, “Wow, this story really moved you. Did you know there was a way to get involved with these same issues in our city through this amazing organization?” It’s a soft call to action. But it also builds awareness of all of the amazing work being done in this city. I think all of our artists learn a lot from the partnerships as well. We’re currently working with HopeWay as our partner for Every Brilliant Thing and it’s been so fascinating learning about the need for mental health care in our area and all of the great work that HopeWay is doing. These partnerships are two-way streets. Most of our partners don’t know anything about the theatre process and hopefully they bring some non-theatre goers through the doors to see a play.

AG: Three Bone Theatre productions are performed in the Duke Energy Theatre in Spirit Square. What are some of the benefits of this venue?

RT: We love being in the Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square. Three Bone Theatre started at an upstairs bar in NoDa that fit about 60 people, so expanding to The Duke has been a dream come true. We love the facility and the staff at Spirit Square. We feel supported and like we have a great team working alongside us for each show – and the location is hard to beat! It’s right in uptown with plenty of parking options available, easily accessible from public transportation and it’s surrounded by delicious restaurants so it makes for a nice “night out.” We have very limited time in the space for tech (we move into the space the Sunday before we open on that Thursday) so our artists have to be ready to go and triple-prepared in order to make the most of every minute. That can definitely be challenging. We also have the challenge of only running for two weekends which can be tricky when most theatres find that you don’t really generate much word of mouth momentum until weekend three. On the other hand, we have more seating and are in an actual theatre (versus a bar) so it’s nice having more options for designs from a technical standpoint. Blumenthal Performing Arts also does a non-profit waiver for the space, which makes it more affordable for emerging companies.

AG: Three Bone Theatre is entirely made up of part-time employees. What are some of the challenges you face with that kind of setup?

RT: Yeah, so we have four members on our management team, and we all have day-jobs. So it’s truly a labor of love. As we’ve grown rapidly, it’s created some challenges with capacity. We have huge visions of the work we want to do and the partnerships we want to create but it comes down to finding the time. We currently do four shows a season and have been brainstorming additional programming for a while – but struggle with the people-power needed to implement those. We’re always trying to find some balance as well since two of our team members have young kids, one of our team members is also back in school, and I’m getting married in October! :P We’re crazy people. But we love what we do!

AG: Talk a little about your background in theatre. Were you an actor, producer etc. growing up? What are some plays or performances of any kind that shaped your passion for theatre?

RT: I’ve been doing theatre since a very young age. I was very involved in school clubs and plays growing up and was lucky to go to schools in western NC that had very healthy theatre programs. I was active with Asheville Community Theatre and worked there most summers as a counselor, teacher, and camp director. Playing Dorothy Gale in Asheville Community Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz is what probably cemented in my head that I wanted to do theatre professionally. I just became obsessed. It’s a wonderful art form and I believe it’s one of the best ways to step into someone else’s shoes. I have a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from Catawba College, but during my senior year I shifted my plan of moving to NYC and started to dream about having more control over the stories being told on stage. Carmen Bartlett, our Founding Artist, and I concocted the idea of Three Bone Theatre in the summer of 2011 and we had our first production in Fall of 2012. Since then, we’ve added team members and become a 501(c)3 and continue to grow our organization. Becky was in our first production in Charlotte of The Vagina Monologues and we scooped her up with her whip-smart background in finances and business and she’s now been our Executive Director for almost five years. She’s been a game changer for us and we have a really great team. I’ve been directing more than acting now, which I love equally as much. And producing is its own type of joy. Three Bone has really become my baby and while sometimes it’s totally exhausting – it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

AG: How would you like to see Three Bone Theatre evolve in the future?

RT: I have so many dreams for Three Bone Theatre, but mostly I just want us to keep telling these beautiful stories, using local talent (like award-winning Charlotte comedienne, Tania Kelly starring in Every Brilliant Thing),  and getting people passionate about coming to the theatre. I truly believe that theatre can change the world.

To learn more about Three Bone Theatre, click here. Get your tickets for Every Brilliant Thing here.

Responses edited for syntax only.

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How I Tore My Achilles: Part III

In the final part of a three part series, I talk about my mindset going into what is sure to be a long and difficult recovery from a torn Achilles. Read Part I here, and Part II here.

How I Tore My Achilles Part III: My Mindset

Objectively, tearing an Achilles’ tendon is not a good thing. The pain is real, the recovery process is long and arduous. Having limited mobility is not fun and having to rely on others is not something I want nor something I’m used to asking for. Having people look at you and not know whether to pity you or support you is awkward. I’ve never been one to seek sympathy and even putting my thoughts about this whole incident in a blog and on social media is a bit awkward for me. This is all new to me, but here’s how I’m choosing to look at it:

I’m looking at this whole rehabilitation process as an opportunity. An opportunity to slow down, take a look around, and take note of what’s really important to me. An opportunity to redefine how I approach everything in my life, from how I get out of bed in the morning, to how I take a shower, to how I cook food, to what relationships mean the most to me (as mentioned in my first blog in this series, my relationships are the most important thing in my life right now).

This is an opportunity to make myself stronger, more resilient, more resourceful. When faced with an obstacle such as this, this is where I can be creative, be imaginative, and put new ideas to use to not only help get me through these difficult moments, but also to pave new paths to use in the future. I fully intend to take this time to make myself a better version of me than I’ve ever been before.

The relationships. As I mentioned above, I’ve never been one to ask for help or sympathy. This experience, however, is forcing me to ask people for help. I’m having to get used to the idea that I can’t do everything on my own, and that I have to get help from others. I also can’t be adverse to the idea of people helping me out. It’s not a sign of weakness, and it’s not a bad thing for people to show me that they care. Even without the injury, I struggled to reach out to people and ask them for help. Before me lies an opportunity to exercise that ability, which is one that I hope will bring me closer to those around me.

I’d also like to comment on something I hear lots of people saying: “That’s why I don’t play basketball/ski/hike/etc., I don’t want to injure myself and have to miss work.” That’s a load of crap to me. I made the decision a long time ago that the small risk of injury was absolutely worth it to do the things I love to do in life, like play basketball. I want no part of diluting my experience on this earth for years because I was afraid of the off chance of hurting myself and, God forbid, missing a little bit of work. I don’t believe we’re put on this Earth to work as much as possible throughout our entire existence. I find it better to live the fullest life possible, and sometimes living a full life involves a few bumps and bruises. Without the hell there is no heaven. Without the darkness there is no light. Without the pain, there is no ecstasy.

I have *zero* regrets about playing ball that day, and I’ll do it again when I’m able to.

Part of keeping myself in good spirits is realizing this is far from the worst thing that could happen to me. People from all around the world to right down the street are dealing with obstacles much more difficult, with outcomes much less certain.

There’s a lady who walks up and down North Tryon St. in Uptown. You might have seen her before. She only has one leg. She’s homeless. Yet, day after day, she gets up on a pair of crutches, and goes about her business with her sweet white labrador leashed to her left hand. Every damn day. There’s no nine month recovery time for her, she’s stuck with just one leg for the rest of her life. No one is sending her a knee scooter, I doubt she has insurance. Yet she persists. She’s not letting her unfortunate disposition slow her down one bit. With far fewer resources than myself, she’s still determined to make the best of her situation.

Another friend I know is a quadriplegic. She’s about my age, but has been without the ability to use her arms and legs for almost five years now. I can’t move my left foot or put pressure on it, but I can’t imagine not being able to use any of my appendages. She truly has to rely on others for help with just about everything she does. Yet, every time I see her, in person or online, she has nothing but the biggest, life-loving smile I’ve ever seen on her face. She lives her life in a way that says “I don’t care about my condition, I’m alive and I’m going to live the best life I can possibly live.” I know not everyday is that optimistic. But you’d never be able to tell by talking to her.

Another of my friends suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. When I get the chance to talk to her at length, I know that part of her is resigned to the fact that she will probably lose her battle with the disease sooner rather than later. Despite that, she uses all her strength to speak out for what she believes in, and she continues to fight to make the positive changes in her community a reality. She never complains, she never uses her condition to ask for sympathy, even though she absolutely could. Instead, she channels her energy into creating the change she wants to see in her world, changes that she may not actually get to see come to fruition. But she does it anyway.

There are many others. There’s people in my community who have lost limbs due to drunk drivers, been beaten to within an inch of their life in random incidents of violence late at night, and those that have lost loved ones in unspeakable tragedies.

The point of all this is not to drum up sympathy for myself or anyone else, but to serve as a reminder. A reminder that no matter how bad of a situation you’re going through, there are others who are going through worse, and not only choosing to persevere, but to prosper and use those situations to make themselves stronger, more compassionate and more resilient.

That’s what I’m choosing to use this challenge as. An opportunity to make myself stronger, more compassionate and more resilient. That’s one of the things I believe makes this precious life of ours so worth living. When something threatens to take that life away, or make life harder to live, we step up. Overcome. Adapt. And in the process, we can meet that challenge and become something greater than what we were before.

In Part I of this series, I talk about how I injured my Achilles playing basketball, read it here. In Part II, I talk about the process of confirming the injury, and going under the knife to fix it, which you can read here.

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How I Tore My Achilles: Part II

In Part II of a three part series, I talk about how I confirmed my torn Achilles, and the surgery that fixed it. Read Part I of the story here. Read Part III of the story here.

How I Tore My Achilles Part II: How I Fixed It

I hear when you get the "Fall Risk" label, that's when they give you the good drugs

I hear when you get the “Fall Risk” label, that’s when they give you the good drugs

As I drove away from the basketball court (thankfully I could still drive since it was my left Achilles that was injured), I knew I needed some help. One, to confirm that my Achilles was torn (although I was 99% sure), and two, to guide me on these critical next steps.

My first call was to a friend of mine who just happens to be a foot/ankle specialist. I described what happened to her and she agreed, it was most likely a torn Achilles. She immediately called in a prescription for an anti-inflammatory pain medication that I would be able to pick up later that afternoon. The second thing she did was to call in to one of her colleagues at her practice that could see me ASAP. While she was not going to be back in the office until Tuesday, she was able to set me up with a colleague of hers who would see me at 9:30 the next morning.

Let me just take a moment to say how thankful I am for my friend who was able to set all of this in motion for me. I’m not sure that if I had just gone to an urgent care center that my case would have been handled as quickly or as smoothly. If you’re reading this: THANK YOU.

I went into the specialist the next morning. It didn’t take her long to confirm what I had feared. It was clear that it was a complete tear as well, and not partial. She was so confident, she didn’t even need an MRI. Instead, she gave me a walking boot and called into OrthoCarolina to set up a pre-op meeting with a surgeon the next day. The surgery was quickly scheduled for the next day after that, a Wednesday.

I’d never had serious surgery. The only other surgical situation that I’d ever had was to remove my wisdom teeth. Certainly not a serious as as Achilles surgery, so this was a new experience for me. My roommate drove me to the hospital that morning, as I ran through a mental checklist of all the things I was supposed to take care of beforehand: no food or drink after midnight the night before, no pain meds, bring ID, health insurance card, and form of payment.

The first place they took me (in my own wheelchair – whee!) was, of course, the registrar’s office. Registrar is a term I had to that point only associated with the place at my university where I wrote my tuition check. That makes sense, since this is where I would pay for my surgery.

Let’s not make light of this part. There have been plenty of horror stories about how medical debt is what leads to two out of every three bankruptcies in this country. I wasn’t worried about this saddling me with debt for the rest of my life, but I knew It would be a significant expense nonetheless. Fortunately, thanks to a reasonable deductible and copay, the total amount I had to pay was something I could take care of in one swipe of my FSA card. Make no mistake, health care in this country is fucked. But in this case, my insurance saved my ass. I’m relieved that I have the employment that made it possible, but chilled by the thought of what my situation would have been had I been self-employed as I was from 2012-’15.

Back to the (relatively) fun stuff. After paying for the procedure, they wheeled me into a waiting room where I had to fill out a few forms, mostly about what I wanted to be addressed as during my stay, and the contact info of the person who would be responsible for my discharge. The wait after that wasn’t long, as a new nurse quickly came and wheeled me back to a prep room.

Me in the prep room. Such excietment

Me in the prep room. Such excietment

 

The prep was light and quick. A few questions (yes, I remembered not to eat or drink after midnight!), they took my blood pressure (a modest 121/81), and hooked up an IV (fortunately I do well with needles). After that, a very young looking anesthesiologist came in and explained the next steps, to which I mostly just nodded and agreed with but didn’t really understand or care about. Shortly after that, they began to put me under. This is the part that I really… don’t… re… remem…

… “So do I get the DVD of my procedure to take home with me?” Is the next thing I remember my smart ass saying to the nurse as I came back to consciousness in the recovery room. “No,” she politely said, “we don’t usually do that.”

Fair enough, I thought. Although I really would be curious to see my flesh sliced open and clamped apart while a doctor stitched up my insides. I’m weird like that.

The recovery room wait wasn’t too difficult. I regained consciousness rather quickly, and I wasn’t suffering from any of the side effects that I was warned about, namely nausea, grogginess and confusion. I certainly wasn’t 100%, which didn’t help when the nurse started reading off what felt like a laundry list of things I needed to keep in mind for the next few days: Take pain meds once every four hours, keep my leg elevated and on ice (two hours on, two hours off), no solid foods for 24 hours, just liquids, etc.

Just as quickly as I had been whisked into the hospital, I was on my way out. After picking up my prescription and posting up on the couch at home, I was truly ready to begin my recovery process.

I’ll spend two weeks in the heavily-wrapped split that my foot is in now, six to eight weeks in a cast, and another six weeks in a walking boot. It will likely be another eight or nine months before I can get back to crossing up defenders on the basketball court again, and that’s with a massive amount of physical therapy in between.

My roommate, Aaron, taking great care of me and not at all taking embarrassing selfies while I was unconcious

My roommate, Aaron, taking great care of me and not at all taking embarrassing selfies while I was unconcious

With all that time and adjustment in lifestyle, it’s given me some things to think about an put into perspective. I’ll examine those in my next blog, which I’ll post tomorrow morning. 

Read Part I: How It Happened here. Read Part III: My Mindset here.

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How I Tore My Achilles: Part I

A week ago today I tore my left Achilles tendon. Let’s take a look at how it happened, how I got it fixed, and what my outlook is moving forward. Read Part II: How I Got It Fixed here. Read Part II: My Mindset here.

How I Tore My Achilles Part I: How it Happened

Sunday, February 25, 2018, 10:45 a.m., Weddington, NC. Yeah, first things first: I’m never in Weddington. Like, ever. It might as well be the Florida panhandle for all I know. So what was I doing so many miles from my NoDa home?

I was invited to play hoops with my good friend David. David and I have been friends for several years now, but because he lives in Weddington, we rarely get to kick it. On this Sunday morning, however, I decided to take the 35-ish minute drive to play some hoops with him, something we’d been talking about for quite a while. It’s part of my effort to make sure that the relationships I have in my life are at their healthiest, something that I decided to make a focal point after I got back from my trip to Asia in November.

After the drive down 77 and then 485 that always takes longer than I ever imagine it does in my head, I turned into the upscale suburban subdivision where David and a few friends were playing ball. The basketball court was all the way in the back, by the tennis courts and the clubhouse (like I said, upscale).

The court was pretty nice. Painted concrete (which now that I look back at it…), adjustable goals with clear plexiglass backboards and breakaway rims, the kind with a tight and firm bounce that gives your missed shots a chance for you to earn their rebounds.

The first game was definitely a warm up. I moved well, got my shots, just couldn’t get them to fall. Even layups were just slightly off their timing. Second game, I was warmed up. Jump shots coming off screens, up and unders, drop steps and layups off a quick first step all dropped. Everything’s in rhythm now.

Just before the third game, a little bit of rain begins to fall. Not a full downpour, but stronger than a little mist too. It made the already slick courts noticeably slicker. We decided to play though it anyway, all six of us making an unwritten pact to not go 100% for our own sakes.

I’ll give you one guess as to who was the one who broke the pact.

After scoring consecutive buckets (the second one coming off a tough contested running teardrop in the lane), I got the ball on the left wing. I knew I had my defender on his heels, and my quick first step is something I can always count on to get past an opponent. I take one dribble to size him up. I take a second faking like I’m going right. I cross over to my left. Ah ha! He’s shifted his weight, I’ve got him beat! I explode to the hoop to my left. I push off my left foot as I anticipate an easy run to the hoop.

I would describe the sound of what I heard next like taking a big empty cardboard box and hitting it with a baseball bat. It’s that deep and punchy bass note that I was most surprised with.

When I heard the sound, and felt the pop, my first thought was that someone threw a basketball full strength at the back of my left ankle. My initial reaction was to look behind me and see who the prankster was that was trying to mess with my drive. There was only one problem:

All six of us were on the court. No one was on the sideline. No one threw a ball at me.

As I went tumbling to the ground, and the realization hit me that no one was playing strike zone with my ankle, it hit me.

I just tore my Achilles. No doubt about it.

I laid flat on my back for a few moments, expecting a searing pain to come tearing through my leg. That pain never came, maybe because of shock, but it did nothing to assuage my fear.

Now, I’ve watched enough sports and played enough basketball to know what happened. I’ve seen the same injury take down Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Rudy Gay, Brandon Jennings and countless others. I knew the injury would take 6-9 months of rehab to get back to where I could ruthlessly cross somebody up again assuming my rehab will allow me to even get back to that level at all. All of these thoughts ran through my head in the five seconds since I heard that pop, a sound that will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

But I couldn’t worry about any of that at that moment. My first challenge in this long and arduous process: stand up.

Stand the fuck up.

David helped me to my feet. I dapped him up and told him not to sweat it, I wouldn’t change a thing (more on this mentality later). I was able to balance on my left foot, but I could tell it was unstable. The next step was to gingerly walk back to my car, toss the basketball I wouldn’t be using for a few months in the passenger seat, and sit down.

Now. Now is where my recovery begins.

First step?

Call a damn doctor!

Read Part II: How I Got It Fixed here. Read Part III: My Mindset here.

My injured left ankle, just hours after my Achilles tore. I was quite surprised there wasn't more swelling and bruising.

My injured left ankle, just hours after my Achilles tore. I was quite surprised there wasn’t more swelling and bruising.

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My Last Night in Tokyo

Shinjuku at night

Shinjuku at night

The following was written in in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo at 3:10 p.m. on November 10, 2017. This is a word-for-word reproduction of my thoughts as they were written in my journal during my last night in Tokyo.

I originally sat down to write this entry at Shibuya crossing because I didn’t think I had enough time to get to Yoyogi park, but then I noticed the lack of seating and constant noise and said “fuck it”, the park is just one stop away so here I am in what is probably one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Here are a few thoughts about Tokyo/Japan as the sun sets on my last day here.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine

Tokyo is very much a city caught between two worlds and two different cultures. While on one hand, there’s the ancient traditions and stoicism of a country closed to outsiders, there’s also a yearning to reach out to the outside world and gain acceptance on a global scale. I learned much about Emperor Meiji (whose shrine I’m only a few thousand feet away from as I write this). Meiji sought to bridge the gap between traditional Japan and the western world during his reign (mid/late 1800’s to early 1900’s). This meant adopting foreign assets like wine, military equipment/strategies, art, and technology. While he was ostracized some (his Vice Minister of War, Omura Masujiro was murdered for his adoption of western equipment/strategies), his mark is very much evident in modern Japan, from their cutting-edge technology and engineering to their daring fashion. It is this juxtaposition that I found most striking during my time here.

Chiyoda at dusk

Chiyoda at dusk

The Japanese people are still very skeptical of outsiders. While everyone I met and interacted with here was extremely polite, I could still feel the distrust behind them. One restaurant in Omide Yokocho wouldn’t even let me sit down. Despite that distrust, the influence of the western world is everywhere here. I suppose everyone wants the best of what everyone else has, while still holding on to the things they hold dear and identify with. It it could also be that it wasn’t that long ago that my country bombed two Japanese cities off the map and imprisoned Japanese Americans in internment camps, not to mention the situation with our current president.

Buddha at the shrine

Buddha at the shrine

In a somewhat related observation, I noticed there were almost no American tourists here. There were a healthy mix of Eastern/Western Europeans (inclusion get several Russians), many African and South American tourists, but almost no Americans (save the one loud-mouthed one at the Craft Gallery).

Nothing is dull in Tokyo

 

The Japanese have an eye for stunning beauty rooted in fine detail. Whether it’s gorgeous parks and gardens with endless rows of Japanese maples, finely decorated art and sculpture, or other worldly animation, the Japanese culture is one that is truly stunning, visually.

Sake barrels

Sake barrels

The presence of the digital era is so impactful here. Even more so than in America, people here can’t put down their digital devices. iPads, smartphones, laptops, LCDs, digital displays are everywhere you look. And it’s not just the tourists gawking and taking pictures of everything, it’s the locals too. There were probably hundreds of pictures taken of the fountain in front of me while I’ve written this.

I mean, bruh...

I mean, bruh…

The food. Oh my word, the food. I could definitely live here from just the culinary standpoint. I’ve had three different kinds of ramen, two giant sushi plates, miso soup, made my own okonomiyaki, yaks tori, sashimi, matcha tea/ice cream/donuts, and so much more. The ramen alone is worth it. I’ll probably have some more once I leave here.

Shinjuku Gardens

Shinjuku Gardens

For being one of the most expensive cities in the world, I didn’t find things to be too expensive here. Most meals averaged out to be around the same price, if not cheaper, than what I’d expect to pay back home. Admission to many of the ultralight centers was very affordable (the Ueno Zoo was like $5 FFS). I’d imagine if you lived here and had to pay rent or property tax, it would be a different story, but for someone like me it was not a big deal.

Bass busking in Shibuya

Bass busking in Shibuya

I also loved the fashion here, especially on the men’s side. Many dudes were wearing sharp suits with all the right details and fits. Colorful pocket squares, diverse fabrics and cuts, and bold haircuts were the norm. Even the more conservatively dressed businessmen had suits that fit and weren’t cheap. The banker bros in Charlotte could certainly learn something from Tokyo’s style. The women were all dressed very well too, but I found their look to be a little too anime/fetish/cutesy for me. Something about their perfectly porcelain skin played up the dull lifelessness in their eyes.

The acute attention to detail comes to life again in social customs like bowing your head, being punctual, lining up on one side of the escalator to let others through, and the almost uncanny ability for thousands and thousands of people to weave through places like Shibuya’s Scramble Crossing or the many train stations without bumping into everyone. If this was Charlotte, people would be falling all over each other in the middle of the street. Watch the crossing at Shibuya sometime, and notice how these massive groups of people move simultaneously when the lights are green, get to the other size of the street, and clear the way for traffic with *ZERO* stragglers holding things up. It’s unreal. I would imagine it’s rooted in a mutual respect for others and having a situational awareness that Americans seem to lack.

IMG_7510

It will be dark soon, and I’ll need to get to bed early as a train ride to the airport takes over an hour and I need to catch my flight to Singapore at 9:45 a.m. I hope to reap my individual days here more in depth tomorrow while I’m in the airport.

Support the Bechtler’s Community Outreach Programs for #GivingTuesdayCLT

Click here to donate!

Hey, everyone, it’s Andy Goh with the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Today is #GivingTuesdayCLT, and I’m raising money for the Bechtler’s Community Outreach initiatives.

I’m setting a goal of $250 to raise, which you have until midnight to contribute to. $250 goes a long way towards helping the Bechtler make an impact in the community. For example, $250 funds school buses and substitute teacher fees for 100 students to visit the museum. $250 provides a tour for two Low to No Vision or Museum Memories participants. $250 covers the cost for five families of four to participate in Bechtler Family Days. $250 provides art supplies for ten participants in any Bechtler Community Outreach program, including the Jail Arts Initiative.

Click the link in this post, and make a donation now to support the Bechtler’s community outreach efforts, which will help us make a difference in the lives of under-served segments of the population, as well as at-risk youth.

Finally, if I hit my $250 goal by midnight tonight, I’ll dye my hair Bechtler red, and post the results on social media.

Thanks again for watching, and make your contribution today!

Click here to donate!

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Playing for Others: Night of Gratitude

playing-for-others-gohjo-jen-band

Many times at typical awards shows, the awards are handed out to people who are already rich in adulation and recognition, a sort of self-congratulation for already being famous.

Fortunately, Playing for OthersNight of Gratitude (this Friday, October 6 at Booth Playhouse) is anything but typical. In fact, it could be considered the exact opposite of your typical awards show.

Instead of the honorees collecting awards that do little to effect change in their communities, the real stars of the show are the teens that Playing for Others works with, focusing on personal development, service, the arts, philanthropy, leadership, and much more.

A group of ten individuals from the Charlotte community are hand-selected by the PFO staff to participate in the Night of Gratitude. However, they don’t merely accept an award, smile and give a half-hearted speech. Instead, they will use their notoriety and accomplishments to inspire and motivate the teens, making the young leaders the stars of the night.

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“The goal is to have this diverse group of honorees that represent all these different areas in Charlotte, and they each have their unique spin and their unique take on how to create change in the community.” Says Jen Band, Director of Playing for Others.

Not content with simply handing out awards and posing for pictures, the production will also include a number of songs and performances by the teens. Several multi-disciplinary performances will be showcased based on the teen’s interpretations of the honorees. Each piece is different, and includes everything from a cappella, full instrumental pieces, or spoken word performances.

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Band hopes to use the community role models to challenge the teens. “We often ask [the teens] to answer the statement, ‘I am (blank)’, and it’s not a noun. It’s not, ‘I am a teacher, I am a leader, I am an artist’. Instead, it’s adjectives. So ‘I am compassionate, I am driven, I am inclusive, I am powerful’.

“When we have these Night of Gratitude honorees, now the teens have a role model of what that can look like. If they say, ‘I am compassionate’, and they are also passionate about the transgender community, or homelessness, creativity or whatever it is, then they have these role models that are also compassionate, and they’re combining their compassion with their passion to create that change in the world.”

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Lara Americo

“I am overwhelmed by the honor of being a part of the Night of Gratitude.” says Lara Americo, one of the 2017 honorees. “I am just happy that there is a group that does this kind of thing in Charlotte.”

Make plans to be at the Booth Playhouse this Friday, October 6 at 8 p.m. for the Night of Gratitude. Get your tickets at PlayingForOthers.org (or you can just click here).

“The best thing people can do to help out is to come and bring other people with them.” says Band. “It’s all about not just spreading the word, which is great, but it’s really secondary to celebrating all the great work people are doing in Charlotte. Let’s inspire others to do the same thing!”

Finally, if you’re in the audience, remember to use wiggly fingers, instead of clapping, which is the official PFO way of showing love and gratitude.

Photos from previous Night of Gratitude events courtesy of Playing for Others. Photo of Lara Americo courtesy of Lara Americo.