Monday, December 29, 2014

The. Gift.

I had it all planned. Weeks prior, I had written Brownie & Christy (friends from CRT) explaining that during our seven months living in Creede, Colorado, it was Brownie's paintings that Person* was most enchanted by. Did they have a small one I could purchase to surprise him with at Christmas? For the person (indeed, my Person) who has everything, this was one thing I reckoned I could get him that would really surprise and delight him.

So Brownie took off to get one of his paintings from a gallery in a neighboring town to store at his house in Lawrence until I arrived on the 20th - en route to St. Jo Mo. Meanwhile, I started saving. Not having had steady employment since August, I knew Person wouldn't expect a gift from me, which made this extra special - sacrifice and beauty. Nothing beats it.  

We arrived in Lawrence to hugs and a lovely fish dinner in an historic home. Christy and Brownie are lovers of history and their house is filled with it. Built in the 1800s it's gorgeous - tall ceilings, wood everything. It's amazing. And every inch is filled with something from an antique or thrift store. Wanna see what a POW built out of toothpicks while stuck in a cell during WWII? They've got it. Ever fancied a Celtic cross? - They've got a drawer full. It's like staying the night in a museum. 

But Brown, Christy, and I had a game plan. So I slipped out to the barn-turn-gallery to "see Brownie's studio." He hurried to a brown box and pulled out the painting. 

"I love it. He'll love it." 

"It's based on a memory I have during my time in France," he explained. Even more perfect. It was The. Gift. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


It's #GivingTuesday and this is a not so subtle attempt to market some of my favorite non-profits and tell you where to put your money (spoiler alert, it's not necessarily where your mouth is).

So, here they are, Ann's Top Nine (I don't know why I chose nine) Places to Give this Giving Tuesday...


Because, to be frank, art changes people. It may be our best ally.

1. Trinity Street Players. I admit it. I may be biased because I founded this theatre and now I'm helping them out again. But still. It's a theatre. In a church. Where thespians are allowed to be themselves, and make art, and not feel proselytized. It's a nice change from the unfortunate norm. (Note: go to the Trinity Street Players line item to donate).

2. Creede Repertory Theatre. Also a biased choice. This is where I worked over the summer and it's a dream. And an anomaly... considering there's only 400 people living in Creede, Colorado right now.

3.  The Rude Mechs. I love this internationally acclaimed theatre company whose home is ATX. However, they're trying to make the hard decision about staying or going. So, get your money and go vote. (Their marketing team is brilliant).


What do you care about the most? They alway ask this on those dang surveys that I get in the mail. Check one of the following.... Healthcare, Corruption on Walstreet, Gun Control. Well, needless to say, my X goes next to the environment box, cuz, y'all. Facts are facts. And it's going fast.

4. World Wildlife Fund - "WWF’s work has evolved from saving species and landscapes to addressing the larger global threats and forces that impact them." And, pandas.

5. The Conservation Fund - "From Alaska’s North Slope to Maryland’s Eastern shore, we’re working with groups to protect lands that that will allow vulnerable species to move and adapt." This is smart work.

6. PETA - Because people who are cruel to animals suck. And don't get me started on what it says about our culture that we have puppy farms and factory farms.


Because, cancer.

7. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Enough said.

Oh and ALS. Because our healthcare system is pretty corrupt, and trying to get resources to survive is pretty difficult.

8. The ALS Association.


9. NPR. Because, news and art. It's a lifesaver on those long drives. And its refreshing to know that thoughtful people still exist and are telling theirs and other's stories. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Burn

One of the interesting tidbits about the tiny town of Creede, CO is the plethora of artists who reside here. Whether its a TV throwing Cannon Ball Man or the distinct paintings of Mr. Quiller, or Mandy Patinkin himself, there are a lot of creative folks in these mountains.

One such person is Bev Chapman. Some of you Missouri and Kansas folk may remember her from KMBC. Now, however, she's specializing in film, and I saw Bev's work earlier this summer at the premier for her short film, Big Burn.

This documentary tells the story of what I have come to know as "the fire." Frequently referenced around town, whether discussing finances or tourism or residual injuries, the topic at hand often turns to "the fire."

What is "the fire?" Well, that's what I wanted to know. So I went to the completely packed movie premier where I met the sunny and lovely Bev Chapman, who shared the San Luis Valley's Fire story with me.

Check out the trailer.

From boy scouts to business owners, few went untouched. And the ones who did, tell the story here. If you'd like to check out the full movie, it will be available after it's premiered in a few film festivals. Until then, stay tuned, and maybe drop a few coins in the Creede Community Relief Fund which was started to help those who lost so much in "the fire."

And kudos to Bev and all the other artists who continue to tell the story of this amazing little town.

P.S. Quiller has an amazing Beauty in the Burn painting series. Check it out too!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Story of the Three Thousand Dollar Pendant

At Creede Repertory Theatre's Illuminated Gala on Sunday, July 27, Manuel and I entered the South Fork Country Club in anticipation of a great evening. I was wearing an amazing dress, and would be singing. 
In addition, trapeze, dancing, testimonials, and an auction were scheduled to be scattered throughout the night. Dinner would be served, and there was to be an open bar which Manuel would typically not take advantage of. 

Manuel and I began the evening at the Gala having earlier made an agreement. With so many fun things to do this summer, and with big plans for the fall, I had made a pitch for fiscal conservatism (please don’t tell my fellow democrats), and asked him to limit his generosity to the $250 admission price. He complied, and agreed not to bid on any of the auction items. 

Truth be told, I didn’t trust him. The man grew up poor, and now that he has money, he loves to give it away. Frequently, I peered over the balcony of the club and observed the tables below. Had his been one of the hands that raised during the live auction? 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And Then I Moved to Colorado

I spent my birthday with strangers this year and it was one of the most exciting days of my life.

Not because anyone knew it was my birthday (or because anyone even knew me). Not because I moved into the triangle shaped upstairs of a house chock full of Harry Potter holes (small doors that monsters and bad guys could easily crawl out of - terrifying!). Not because I ate a delicious, gluten-filled brownie my roommate made because she likes to bake. Not because my other roommate had a long haired chiguagua with whom I knew I would become best friends. Not because I watched my first full Game of Thrones (which I hate) episode in an attempt to make human friends. 

Not even because of all those reasons.

Rather, it was one of the more momentous days of my life because I moved to Creede, Colorado to take a new job with a repertory theatre.   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Turns 100... and a blind eye.

I don't want to come across as a hater. And Lord knows I love my mother (and am the spittin' image of her). But I do not like Mother's Day.

And I'm not the only one.

In 1923, nine years after Anna Jarvis talked President Woodrow Wilson into establishing a national "Mother's Day," Ms. Jarvis turned around and began protesting it.

On facebook today, fourteen months after the death of his mother, Jason Nethercut describes Mother's Day as "prominent, glaring and threatening."

And for five years when I served at First Baptist Church in Austin, TX, I could be counted on to cry (hopefully non-conspicuously) at one service every year: Mother's Day.

Why don't we like it?

Well, Anna Jarvis hated how commercial it became in just nine years (oh Lord, she'd HATE it now). You see, she didn't start the movement to create a national holiday for "we the people" to give our moms flowers, and candy and cheesy greeting cards. She petitioned for this national holiday because her own mother organized "Mother's Work Days" to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality, to tend to soldiers who had been injured in the Civil War.  Anna's mother's contemporary, Julia Ward Howe (who composed "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"), issued a widely read "Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870, calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.

Mother's Day, for Anna, was to recognize extraordinary women, and specifically the one she was the closest to: her mother.

In other words, "Mother's Day was born in the aftermath of the Civil War, as a rallying cry for women worldwide to oppose war and fight for social justice." It wasn't actually about mothers being good moms, it was about women being good people.

Mother's Day was a cry to action. It was a call from the feminist and Christian communities for women to live to their fullest potential as God's children... and to protect God's other children.

Happy 100th Birthday, Mother's Day. You have forgotten who you are.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Transition: Something Just Broke

The movement into Holy Week starts off strong and exciting - like any good religious festival. From Sunday's palm branch waving and animal joyriding to tomorrow night's dinner with friends, things seem to be going well for Jesus and the Disciples.

But today, Holy Wednesday is traditionally the day that Judas is said to have gone to the High Priests... "What will you give me if I betray him?" Thirty pieces of silver later, and our story takes a swift turn for the worse. Way beyond foreshadowing, the climax builds as things fall apart.

At the passover dinner, Jesus hints that one will deny him, another betray him, and a party guest leaves in a huff.

Bread is broken and eaten, wine is poured and drunk, but the symbolism isn't traditional, and the disciples wonder what these mixed up metaphors might mean.

After dinner, Jesus excuses himself up to the garden to pray, taking with him his three closest friends. He asks them to wait and keep watch, while he begs God: let there be another way.

But God says no, and when Jesus returns, more disappointment awaits him. He finds his comrades snoozing, the passover hangover already upon them.

Heading back down the hill, things go from bad to worse as the one who ran away comes running back with guards in tow, a kiss of death upon his lips.

Peter draws his sword and the fight escalates when he cuts off a slave's ear. But Jesus, usually the peacemaker, knows that violence must wait a day and it certainly won't come from an army of angry revolutionaries.

But as Jesus returns the ear to the poor servant's head, his friends begin to panic. Everyone takes flight now, one fleeing so fast that when a guard grabs his cloak the disciple wriggles free and runs naked all the way home.

Jesus, on the other hand, is restrained, imprisoned, and left to await trial and potential capital punishment.

And we move from Holy Wednesday to Maundy Thursday.

Sleepy stewards, double-crossing kisses, and then... something just broke.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Assassins... the Musical

"You know the FBI has a file on you now," a young man with a record informed me after I performed in Soubrette Production's Assassins last weekend.

"Oh honey, they've had a file on me for a long time," I replied. "You've read my blog, right?"

Seriously though, aside from the fact that I've actively and articulately criticized American politicians - conservatives and liberals (Though lets be honest, fundamentalists of the former persuasion are much more offensive and ridiculous than fundies of the latter - what would a fundamentalist liberal be anyway? a hippie? I digress.) - and aside from the fact that I am very opinionated about politics, race, sexism, issues of social justice and separation of church and state, I also dated someone who worked for the Department of Defense. Remember when I quit posting crazy boyfriend stories in the latter part of 2011? There was a reason for that. But it wasn't because I stopped dating men, it was because my man didn't have security clearance. Yep, that happened.

And now I've gone and performed in Assassins, the musical about successful and wanna-be assassins of American Presidents. So, add that to the file, Monsieur FBI.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Backhanded Sermon

Yesterday at First Austin, Rev. Dr. Roger Paynter preached on Leviticus 19 and Matthew 5... the turn the other cheek story. He said that while being told to turn the other cheek is often used by Christians to "baptize our masochism," it can also be a chance for us to allow for a "courageous assertion of ourselves."

I preached on this very text eleven years ago. It's a sermon on one of the best things I learned in seminary (I think). And since apparently University Baptist Waco has been on my mind lately (I threw on an old UBC shirt to run errands in on Saturday and then low and behold, Kyle Lake, visited me in a dream that night right before I headed to church to hear a text I once preached. So I got out the old scrapbooks, and I got out my old book of sermons (those files don't exist electronically anymore). And on my little iPad last night, I smiled and cringed and smiled some more and typed out that sermon to share with y'all. 

And of course I've included pictures. Because this text is tricky, and it required a full on demonstration from the stage that morning. Pre-blog apologies to Big Phil and Lance. And Kyle, it was nice to see you the other night. Thanks for visiting...

And now, we welcome to the blog 25-year-old Ann Pittman 
from UBC Waco 2003...

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm Working on MLK (and what it means to me)

It's MLK Day.

I've written about this day before. And over the years, I've spent it in a variety of ways: playing in the snow since I didn't have to go to school in Missouri, raking leaves when I didn't have to go to work in Texas. And one year I even attended an MLK Day breakfast at Huston-Tillotson University with Austin icon, Volma Overton.

This year though, I will go to work (ah, corporate America); and I admit MLK Jr. is on my mind.

I can't pinpoint why. Maybe it's because I listened to this weird "I'm over MLK" discussion on NPR. I mean, I can't even...

Or maybe I'm paranoid about the gentrification of my neighborhood. Though admittedly, on my block, its affected the poorer Latino families more than it's affected the African Americans.

Or maybe I'm dreading all the MLK meme that will undoubtedly be posted on FB tomorrow - by conservatives trying to show they're not racist and by liberals trying to tell people to stop being racist. (None of it really matters as history suggests that few change their mind because of Facebook posts). (Furthermore, I will post some lovely meme on this blog to break up the text and appeal to visual readers).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Top Ten Twenty-Thirteen Theatre

Everyone has their favorites. And everyone's weighing in (Chronicle critics: AdamRoberts, Robert Faires ... a cat).

Of course, I have my own opinions :)

So here's my credential-free pick for Austin's Top Ten 2013 Theatre Experiences (p.s. I don't include national tours or shows I was in on this list... tours obvs. aren't Austin, and despite my first girl-on-girl kiss this year, its probably biased to nominate performances I was a part of). Of the over twenty shows I saw this year, here's some moments, people and experiences that I loved (in no particular order)...

1.    Barbara Chisholm in Fixing King John. This was a fun, smart show by the Rude Mechs, and pulling her hair out in the middle of it was a brilliant Barbara Chisholm.

2.    The amazing set of Nursery Crimes (the DAC has never been better utilized) and the supporting characters trio of Travis Bedard, Bobby DiPasquale, and Heath Thompson. Kudos to Last Act's Will Snider for some great choices.

3.    Ryan Crowder's big fat crocodile tears (in addition to the rest of his performance) in Penfold Theatre's Red.

4.    Martin Burke's final monologue in Harvey. Lovely.

5.    Kristi Brawner in general. From Sally in Reefer Madness to Lucy in Charlie Brown, she is quickly becoming Austin's most versatile 20 Something (sorry guys, she's taken).

6.    HPT's Ken Webster as Thom Pain. Again.

7.    Mad Beat Hip & Gone. I cannot understand why this didn't get more critical attention.  Whatev. You guys, it was great. And those lightbulbs...

8.    The Drawbridge/Gangplank lowering and raising set piece thing in Austin Playhouse's Man of La Mancha. Awesome and daunting. Broke up the play and the mood perfectly appropriately.

9.    Little Shop of Horrors' colorful costumes at Zilker Park.

10.  ZACH's A Christmas Story set. You'll shoot your eye out.

AND what I really, really wanted to see (which might have influenced the above list), but, alas, life had other exciting adventures...

1.    Mical Trejo in Teatro Vivo's Confessions of a Mexpatriot

2.    And Then There Were None by Austin Playhouse

3.    Tongues (in the swimming pool!) by Theatre at the J

4.    Fat Pig by Theatre En Bloc

So there you have it! Of the Austin theatre events I saw, these were the most super-duper. Maybe next year I'll be brave enough to give you The Worst Of... who knows! In the meantime, here's looking forward to more great, funny, meaningful, important, silly theatre in the heart of Texas in 2014!