In Collaborating With Children, I wrote about the first school production I did with The Woodlands Preparatory School. Being a mad sucker for punishment, and figuring that the first time you do something is always the hardest, I agreed to produce the next year’s show. We brought the whole team back together, including Jacquie Fox in her lead role.
Again, I recruited my children, Brutus and Maximus, to assist me to plot the story, called Fire It Up!
Maximus and Millicent McRain, two mad meteorologists, build a Wild Wicked Weather Weapon to control the weather. For their own evil gain, they divert rain from Europe to a piece of land they own in the Australian desert.
Our good guys, Albert Postus (pro-basketball player) and Carrie Style (head cheerleader) try to solve the mystery of the unseasonal European drought, which takes them on a madcap chase through every continent: North America (USA), Africa (Egypt), Europe (France), Australia, Asia (India), South America (Peru) and Antarctica.
I can’t say enough good things about the parents who brought this project to life. Or the kids – so much fun and good humour. With experience, we had fewer discipline issues and everything ran more smoothly than the first year. We charged participating students a small fee to give us a budget for sets, props and costumes. This enabled us to achieve a higher standard.
But as with any endeavour, there were disappointments. Ours came in the form of a complete lack of appreciation from the school. We weren’t doing the show to be lauded, but when we approached the administration about the third year and were told that we couldn’t use our major rehearsal venue, we began to question if it was worth persevering.
For the love of writing, the boys and I wrote the next play. Athena’s Workshop was full of references to Greek culture and celebrated music through the ages.
Natasha inherits Athena’s Workshop, a run down theatre, from her estranged grand-parents and must decide whether to knock it down or to resurrect it.
The Omada, a gang of runaways who have made the theater their home, worry they will be displaced now the theater has an active owner.
Meanwhile, Sarah, Natasha’s assistant, harbours a secret wish to become a singer. When she meets the Omada, she persuades Natasha to hire a resident theater group, but Natasha insists they must audition.
Can the Omada secure their home?
But Athena’s Workshop was never produced. We were already on the fence about doing a third show, so when another opportunity presented, I decided to put my energy elsewhere.
While I was living in Houston, Gail Collins, my friend and colleague from Nigeria, had moved to Papua New Guinea. ExxonMobil wanted an equivalent of Nigerian Gems about PNG and Gail worked hard to secure a contract. And so, I took off my director’s cap and returned to books.