Sleep Paralysis

I never knew what it was called until they came up with a name for it about five or six years ago.  I’ve been having it since I was 14.  I believe my brother has been having it since he was 15.  My daughter has it but her mother, my ex-wife does not.

The reason why I’m bringing it up is because, although I’ve been dealing with this phenomenon at varying levels of discomfort throughout my life, it has never been as bad as it’s been in the past ten or twelve days.   I’m having it day after day; I’ve been to Emergency about it; I’ve even had a guy from my church come over and perform a kind of charismatic exorcism.  

I’ve probably averaged three or four hours of sleep a night for the past ten days or so.  Only on one night did I get a good seven hours sleep.  The night I went to Emergency the doctor there gave me 0.5 mg clonazepam on my request, which was the same medication I swore off cold turkey on May 10, 2004.  A reaction to a prescription of 6mg / day I was given on the morning my mother was to die caused me to start behaving very strangely, uncharacteristically.   Anybody who’s heard my story knows that between October 9, 2003 when Mom died and May 17, 2004 when I spent my first night homeless at the Burlingame CalTrain station, I lost everything I had.  I took clonazepam (klonopin) all that time till I quit cold turkey on May 10, 2004.  

The reason I bring this up is that I don’t ask for a clonazepam lightly.  But I’ve known that a low dose like that is usually sufficient to get me from a waking state to sound sleep without stopping at that horrible zone where you kinda feel like this:

What Are Your Experiences With The Sleep Paralysis Demon Like?

Seriously.  Something from somewhere is pressing upon you.  You don’t quite see it, but boy do you feel it!  It’s one of the most terrifying experiences I know of.   

The night of the exorcism (not quite the right word; I think he use the word “intercession”) I slept very well.  It seemed all sense of such invasive entities had stopped completely.  But last night the invasion resumed.  I jumped out of bed pretty mad.   When is this thing going to end?

I was so mad, I ran three miles at midnight, did eleven push-ups, then wiped myself out enough to conk out from about two till six in the morning.   My vital signs were good at the doctor’s visit – lost eight pounds, medium to low blood pressure, heart rate 56.  Lots of exercise lately, and not much rest.  That could be a factor, but man, I am getting tired of this!   

I called the guy from my church and we prayed I would just get a decent night’s sleep.  I’ve been contacting old friends, and preparing for the worst.   I’m not sure how much longer I can hold up.  I have never had it night after night, day after day, on the bus, in the doctor’s office, sitting on my desk, sitting in the cafe — it’s horrible.

I’ve alternated between thinking that the loss of my medication might have something to do with it, but it was happening before that as well.  I’ve thought the medication itself might be involved, but one way or the other, I don’t like it.

I know this isn’t my usual post, but I’m not sure I’ve got much longer.  Every night I wonder if I’m going to get to sleep, or if I’m going to wake up, when it’s done.   So, if I’ve seemed to be weird the past few days, this is why.   

Today is the third year anniversary of the day I stepped off that bus on July 27, 2016 to start a new life.  If you pray, please pray that the new life will manifest fully from here. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been half asleep and half awake. Half in Cali, half up here. Half outdoors, and half inside. I’m in paralysis. I want to be full and complete from here on in, and paralyzed no more.

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Tuesday Tuneup 52

Q. What are you doing here?

A. What do you mean, what am I doing here?  I’m here to answer your questions, as best I can.

Q. But didn’t you say you weren’t coming back until October?

A. I changed my mind.

Q. What made you change your mind?

A. There’s much less stress in my life now than there was when I made that decision.

Q. But didn’t you give me your word?

A. I did, yes.

Q. Then why are you breaking your word?

A. Are you really taking this game that seriously?

Q. What makes it a game?

A. Hmm – good question.  I used the word “game” automatically, without really examining it first.

Q. Why do you think you did that?

A. There was a game on my mind.  A game where we used to always give our words, and shake on deals, even though a lot of the times, those deals were broken.

Q. What game was that?

A. Do you really need to know?

Q. Why shouldn’t I know?

A. It’s privileged information.

Q. Am I not privileged?

A. You are not.  And neither am I.

Q. Well, can you give me a clue?  

A. Can we have a guessing game?

Q. Okay.  Where did this game take place?

A. On the streets.

Q. Who did you play it with?

A. A bunch of other people who lived on the streets.

Q. What was the game called?

A. It was called the Game.  Capital G.

Q. How long did you play the Game?

A. Three years.  I began, to be honest, in July 2013.  I stopped in June 2016.

Q. Do you have a photographic memory?

A. I’m not sure.

Q. What did the Game consist of?

A. Interactions with others based on monetary exchanges, supply and demand.

Q. Were you a merchant in the Game?

A. No.  More like a customer.

Q. Why did you stop playing the Game?

A. Because I was no longer interested in the products that were being provided.

Q. Did you then begin to play another game?

A. I did not.  

Q. Why not?

A. Because, as a dear friend once told me, I am not immortal – and life is not a game.

The Questioner is silent.  

Life is Not a Game - Being Effective for God (April 2012)

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Pitfalls of Forgiveness: Part Two

I wanted to subtitle this one: “How NOT to forgive somebody.”   I got this crazy idea that  if somebody whom I have resented would only answer a few questions for me, I would finally “understand” the situation, and therefore finally “forgive” the guy.   After all, isn’t there a French proverb that reads: “To understand all is to forgive all?”   Sure there is!  Therefore,  if I could only understand this fellow’s baffling behavior toward me, then naturally I would finally arrive at a moment like this:

“Oh!  I get it!  That’s why you said all those weird and totally hurtful things!  I understand now!   It all makes sense!!  Finally, I forgive you, man!!!”

Believe me, this is not the way to approach the matter.   To illustrate this, I’ve prepared a fictitious email, sent to someone named “Tom” who hypothetically had offended me.  The nature of the offense is based on truth, though the names and variables have been altered and mixed, for the sake of discretion and taste.  Observe the absurdity of such an entreaty:

Hey Tom –

As you know, I’ve been having a very difficult time forgiving you for nearly two years now.    Largely, this is due to a single conversation in which you suddenly decided, among other things, that you were not really my good, close friend, but only a “casual acquaintance.”

Being as we have had many close conversations over a twenty year period of time, this demotion seemed a bit unfair.  Come to think of it, however, it was only I who kept revealing all kinds of personal information to you, thinking you were one of my very best friends.  Perhaps this explains why you would often take the information I conveyed to you in confidence and freely distribute among your many associates.  Had I been your friend, and not just some random guy, you might have been more loyal.

It appears that either you are one of the most malicious people I’ve ever met, or one of the stupidest.  I sure hope the latter is the case.  If you are stupid, then you simply don’t realize the implications of your statements, and therefore it is more difficult for me to find fault with you.

I have therefore provided you with a 12-point questionnaire, designed to determine whether or not you are an evil genius or a stupid idiot.  Once I know the answer, I will understand you perfectly; and therefore forgive you.  

Best Regards,

Andy

Do you see how ludicrous that would be?  If the situation were reversed, and I knew that someone hated me, and the person who hated me was insisting that I alter my behavior in some form or another, until he would no longer hate me, how would I feel?

I would be incensed!  It is not my purpose in life to adjust my behavior to please him who hates me.  That person who hates me is not God, and has no right to insist that I change in any way.

Scrummaster Needed Desperately at LAST Conf 2016 in ...

But the aphorism above comes to mind and is wise.  This person whom I am calling “Tom” also had a way of lecturing me.  Lengthy dissertations on how to live my life, flavored by little gifts he would buy me — running shoes, a cell phone, and lunches.  It took me a while to realize that he must not have been all that bright.   People who give a lot of advice generally mean well.  They’re just not smart enough to realize that they shouldn’t be doing it.  

Of course, this begs the question: “Why on earth did I listen to all these uninvited lectures in the first place?

The answer is this:

When you’re homeless, and you’re out on the streets, and you’re not sleeping very well, and you’re being treated left and right as though you are a totally worthless scum bag with no clue how to live your life, you eventually begin to believe it.

So you turn to those who appear to be doing well, and you eat up their worthless advice as though it were manna from heaven.  Somehow, you don’t realize until you finally get inside that their advice pertains only to the world of the wealthy.  It has no relevance whatever to the world of the underprivileged — the world where you actually live.

As far as forgiveness is concerned, as Bryan Wagner has pointed out, it has nothing to do with the other person at all.   The idea of requesting that someone alter their behavior in order that you might forgive them is absurd.   Had they been willing to do something like that, you’d have never resented them in the first place.

Forgiveness is an inside job.  It can only be accomplished in that place inside you where you meet your True and Highest Self.  It can only be accomplished in the heart.

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Lonely Hearts

This one is from my daughter Angela (whom I call “Echo”).  We were talking on the phone this morning when she began to write a song about me.   This afternoon she expanded it into a larger song called “Lonely Hearts” and has now posted it to her youtube.   


 

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Got to Get You into My Life

Another clip from the Beatles show, very early on.  Obviously, I’d not yet grasped that I don’t need to hit those electronic keys quite as hard as the keys on the Baldwin Grand.  (Not that I exactly need to hit the Baldwin keys as hard as I do either.  I just like it like that.)

Dave Harlan is the sound man, the guy who helped put the music stand back on the piano after I hit the keys so hard it fell over onto the floor.  (He also happens to be the director of Eden in Babylon.) Paul Anders on the Cajon, and one can even detect my pastor Norman in the audience, as well as the very kind woman Marilyn who gave me my Howard upright piano for free.   Even covered the piano moving.   Lots of nice people in da hood.

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Pitfalls of Forgiveness: Part One

As most of  you know, I am of a genetic heritage (Sicilian) that is noted for resisting the notion of forgiveness.   Some of us seem to have an alarming capacity to take our grudges to our graves.   However, because I am a Christian, and I take the Bible seriously, I would like to make sure that I forgive those whom I still begrudge.   Yet I frankly find forgiveness of these people to be next to impossible. 

But I’ve got to forgive them!   Even if I didn’t identify as a Christian, I’d probably still feel a need to forgive them, if for no other reason than that a lingering resentment doesn’t feel good.   Resentments against others eat away at one’s mental health.   If I weren’t a Christian, I would want to let go of these grudges for my sake.   But because I am a Christian, it is not only for my own sake that I must forgive.  It is for God’s sake — for the sake of all that is good and just and kind in this world.  Look what Jesus said:

Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.
–Mark 11:25-26

So if we want to be forgiven, then we need to forgive.   That much seems simple and sound.   But whether or not you are conversant with Scripture, these words of Jesus are likely to strike a puzzling note.   Aren’t we Christians the ones who believe that we simply are forgiven?   As in, no matter what we do?

forgiveWell, yes and no.   There are Christians and there are Christians.  A Calvinist might believe this.  An Arminian might not.   We could get into Romans Six and all that, but this single Scripture definitely appears to contradict numerous biblical references to the security of the believer. Have our names not been written on the Book of Life since “before the foundation of the world?”  If I am a Christian, and I believe that God has already forgiven me, then why would I need to forgive anyone else in order to secure His forgiveness?   

Although I’ve read numerous studies on the matter, they seem by and large to be rationalizations.   One suggested that Jesus speaks in this context not to “believers” but to “people in the world.”   But that doesn’t hold water.   Jesus is simply speaking to everybody — to whoever has ears to hear — whether they believe Him or not.

So I pondered this apparent contradiction for a long time.  Finally, I arrived at a reconciliation within myself, as a result of performing the following dialectic:

Q. What’s bugging you?

A. I think I might be going to hell.

Q. Why?

A. There are three people in my life whom I have not forgiven.  

Q. But aren’t you a Christian?

A. That depends upon what you mean by “Christian.”

Q. What do you mean by Christian?

A. A Christian (according to me) is a person who is in the process of being saved.

Q. Saved from what?

A. From the just consequences of our many misdeeds.

Q. Can you document this scripturally?

A. I can try.   Romans 10:9 states:  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  According to this Scripture, these are the two prerequisites for salvation.

Q. Do you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord?

A. Sometimes.

Q. Do you believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead?

A. Always.

Q. Then why would you not be saved?

A. Because I haven’t forgiven these three people, and God says I have to forgive them if I want to go to heaven.

Q. Do you want to forgive them?

A. Oh yes!

Q. Then why don’t you?

A. I keep trying, but I keep winding up going back to the grudges.   It’s not that I don’t want to forgive them, it’s that I don’t feel I have the power to do so.

Q. But as a Christian, doesn’t your power come from God?

A. Well, if it doesn’t, then it ought to.

Q. Then why not ask God to empower you to forgive them?

A. Good idea.   I will do so immediately.

Q. Anything else?

A. Yes.

Q. What?

A. As I asked God to empower me to forgive the triumvirate whom I begrudge, a thought came to mind.  Something I’d never thought before.

Q. Really?  What thought is that?

A. Since God knows all things, maybe God knows that ultimately, at some time in my life, I am going to forgive all three of them.   Therefore, though I haven’t forgiven them yet — and would certainly go to hell were I to die on this very day — I am still nonetheless going to go to heaven on some future day, because by the time that future day rolls around, I will have forgiven them.   And God knows this!  I may not have forgiven them yet, but I will forgive them.  I will then be free to depart gracefully from the present planet, and take up my throne in heaven.

Q. Your throne?   Isn’t God the one on the throne?

A. 2 Timothy 2:12 & Revelation 20:6, dude.  We’re all gonna be reigning in heaven.   Remember: you are dealing with a person who actually reads the Bible.   I’m not a person who blindly swallows every lie that comes out of the mouth of the preacher on the pulpit.  Nor am I of the camp who absolutely refuse to open the Book, for fear of its contents.   Nor am I —

Q. Excuse me!! What about 1 Corinthians 8:1?

A. Oops — I forgot.  You actually read the Bible, too.

Q. Well, what about it?

A. What about what?

Q. Don’t dodge the question — what about 1 Cor 8:1?   Paul clearly states that the pursuit of knowledge leads to arrogance, whereas the pursuit of love leads to encouragement and spiritual growth.

A. All right, I’ll admit it.  My problem is that I’m too hung up on learning, reading, absorbing, acquiring information, and gaining knowledge.   And despite all of that intellectual focus, the plain fact is that I just don’t have enough love in my heart.   

Q. And Who is Love?

A. You know the answer to that.   Luke 15:9 & John 4:8 come to mind.   God is Love.

Q. Then Whom shall you seek, if you are to learn how to love?

A. Deuteronomy 4:29 & Jeremiah 29:13 hold the answer to that one.

Q. Wasn’t that a bit indirect of you?

A. Was Jesus always direct?

The Questioner is silent.  

Obviously, I’ve arrived at a resolution that is quite pleasant, if tenuous.   It would seem that my next move along these lines should be to forgive the three people whom I continue to begrudge.   So, in Parts 2-4 of this series (if I ever get around to writing them),  please expect me to go through great efforts to forgive the triad of traitors who so treacherously trapped, tricked, and traumatized me.   I’m not going to mention them by name — of course.   But I’m definitely going to delve into it.

Why?  Because I must.  It’s not just being Sicilian.   It’s that I spent way too much time on the streets.   There, the concept of achieving peace of mind over a troubling individual was virtually synonymous with the notion of getting even with them.   If I wanted there to be peace between me and someone with whom I was quarreling,  I didn’t even think about forgiving them.  I thought about intimidating them until they were too scared to mess with me.   It was only then that I would breathe my long-awaited — though highly temporary — sigh of relief.

Let’s put it this way.   I may have Mafioso blood, but I sure didn’t have anything against any of these people before I had to spend twelve years on the streets.

TO BE CONTINUED

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Norwegian Wood

The event  of the All Beatles show turns out so far to be a very warm gathering of medium attendance.  The Town Elders are there, a great rare appearance.  Then mostly my homeys whom I can identify among the visible audience members, if you wish.  I believe these videos are coming at me in chronological order, and these first two, Can’t Buy Me Love and Norwegian Wood, definitely took place before things got out of hand.   

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Can’t Buy Me Love

I apologize for the delay.  I’ve been waiting for clips from the All Beatles Show to start pouring into my inbox, which moment appears at long last to be now.   I’ll just post them in the order they come.  Here’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

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The All Beatles Show

For those of you who have been anticipating a musical offering right around now, you will not be disappointed.  I’ve only been waiting for a relaxed moment to report what’s been happening.

Beatles Logo Clip Art – Cliparts

I just returned from a two hour show where I and multi-instrumentalist Paul Anders were joined by the special guest arrival of vocalist Kelsey Chapman, who harmonized with me on a performance of nothing but Beatles songs for two hours.   Although we didn’t get a video of the entire show, Brandy Sullivan has told me that she has captured four or five key sections.  

My first response was: “Tell me you caught Eleanor Rigby!”  

“That I did,” smiled Brandy.

“Whew!” I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was too magical, between me and Paul when he was on his violin, bowing smooth arco passages throughout.   And the voicings Kelsey and I intuited into our harmonies, and the dynamic peaks and valleys of the piece.  It was one of those times that all musicians live for, when everything comes together, however mysteriously, and by surprise.

It was all in all a very high-spirited, warm-hearted occasion.  At one point the entire building was singing the chorus to “Yellow Submarine” repeatedly.  They got softer and softer, until I suddenly shouted “One more time!”  At that, everybody starting singing “We all live on a yellow submarine!” at the top of their lungs.  It was priceless.

Kelsey did “Imagine” — technically a John Lennon tune — and Dave and I sang harmonies, another one with an almost mystical ebb and flow.  “Lady Madonna” was one of the more rockin’ numbers, as was “Gotta Get You Into My Life.”   Then came “For No One,” “Nowhere Man,” and “The Fool on the Hill.”  Maybe you get the picture.  It got kinda dark.

We closed with “A Day in the Life.”  This, by the way, was a fundraiser, that happened to go quite well — in fact, even better than hoped.  I’ll be posting clips and videos as I receive them from Brandy throughout the weekend.  

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Interview

Earlier I mentioned having been interviewed on a local radio show.   The full three hour show (with all kinds of music clips), is available on the Radio Free America website on this link.   However, one is fairly well mandated to hear out the entire affair, as there is neither a fast-forward nor a rewind control on the player.

Here below on the other hand is a condensed version I’ve prepared for your listening scrutiny.  This one I’ve managed to trim down to shortly over an hour.  The only music clips are the two songs I did at the Open Mike, where I met Fiddlin’ Big Al, the radio interviewer.  The rest of it is my being interviewed about this & that & the other thing:

TalkAndy Pope Interview
06-29-2019

Of course I put in a plug for the musical.  The only thing that’s a downer is that the stated dates are no longer slated, and so the information as to those slots is out of date.    That’s because we’ve postponed the concert reading, which as I earlier suggested I feel is the right choice.

I also feel that a bigger and better production of this show is in the works, involving members of the same team, as well as some new players.  What’s nice in this town is that the ordinary procedures for producing a show within the Theatre Arts realm or that of the School of Music are adjusted in my favor in the unique case of an original musical.  There is a strong sense that a certain community of a Performing Artists is so enamored with the idea that they won’t allow it not to happen.   And this is a great relief.  It’s not just me anymore.  It’s us.  

But aside from all things thespian, there is a lot of material on the recorded interview that may appeal to you in an entirely different light.   I was able both to tell the story about how I got out of homelessness, and how I became homeless in the first place.  And other worthwhile stories have been shared.  I hope you enjoy them.   

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Rosy

Happy Independence Day, to whomever it may apply.   It applies to me in numerous ways, not the least of which is that I finished  a working script and score to my musical Eden in Babylon on Independence Day, exactly one year ago today.  And now, may I present you with a third version of my song “Rosy.”  This is from last Friday’s open mike.

Andy Pope on the Yamaha at the Open Mike
at the One World Cafe, Friday June 29, 2019.
“Rosy” from In Lies We Trust.
Copyright © 2019 by Andrew Michael Pope.  All Rights Reserved.  

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A Difficult but Just Decision

Even after the Good Cop Bad Cop maneuver, only six out of twelve showed up on Friday’s rehearsal.   That, on top of other factors, has caused me and Dave to make the decision cited in the email below:

Team:

We have come to the difficult decision to postpone our reading of Eden in Babylon. After a couple of weeks of cast fluctuations, some difficulty with scheduling and a hard look at our current workloads and available resources, it makes sense for us to step back to reduce the stress and to be sure to give this piece the attention it deserves. The hiatus will give us an opportunity to find additional collaborators to help us with logistics. And it will give Andy time to finish up the scoring and materials to help teach and learn the music most effectively.

At this point we don’t have a new target date for the reading. We’ll let you know as we know more. You’ll all be on our list when we get ready to put together a cast in the future.

Thank you all for the work you’ve done. We truly appreciate it. We will keep in touch as we look for the right time to do this show.

Thanks again,

Dave and Andy

The wording is Dave’s after a lengthy discussion, and he and I are in agreement.  Not only will this give me two months distance from a situation in which my overloaded, all-over-the-map semblance was promoting a loose and chaotic atmosphere, but it will clearly communicate to the Kids who have been screwing around that we mean business with this thing, and they can’t just take my kindness for weakness.  A lot of the Street Kids were like that, too. They saw me as a pushover, and that shit’s gotta stop.  The ones who are good know who they are.  Their loyalty will be not be forgotten.

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Good Cop Bad Cop

Here’s a little slice of my present-day life — a far cry from where I was three years ago, flying a sign on sidewalk in Berkeley figuring I’d be dead in a gutter any day now.

As most of you know, we are producing a concert reading of my musical about youth homelessness in America.   People in the cast have gotten a little lax about showing up, and some of their reasons remind me of things the Street Kids used to try to tell me when they were trying to convince me I owed them money.   

Police Man Thumbs Up - Down Saying Like And Dislike Stock ...

So yesterday the director and I decided to play Good Cop Bad Cop.  Below you will find my email to the cast, followed by Dave’s email about three hours later.   I told him this was great teamwork.   Hopefully, the cast will get the picture, after this:

To the Cast of Eden in Babylon:

ALL means ALL.

I expect to see ALL who have been called tomorrow at 3pm for an “Awake the Dawn” rehearsal, with the exception of Seth and Matt.

On Friday, only four people showed up. Kathy will be making 12 copies of the “Awake the Dawn” score, so that each of you will have his/her own hard copy part.

Come on. No more sudden excuses, no more last minute bail-outs. Michael* has been fired; his behavior and attitude have been completely unprofessional and unacceptable. If you want to be in Eden in Babylon, please prioritize this important project from here on in. If you need to miss a rehearsal, please give me notice. I have received too many texts either immediately before the rehearsal or, in some cases, during the rehearsal, for my comfort. Not to mention, some of the “reasons” why people need to miss rehearsal have been, frankly, implausible.

All that said, I would like to extend a very special thank you to Zach, Alexi, Liz and Vincent for your excellent work on Friday.

I will see you ALL — except for the two exceptions cited, tomorrow at three.

Andy

*The person who has been dismissed is not actually named Michael.  All right — so here’s Dave’s version:

 

Team,

First, thanks for your work on this so far. Every rehearsal I’ve been able to make has shown heart and musicianship and forward momentum. Let’s keep it going.

We’ve got a lot of time until our performance, but we also have some work to do. Andy is working hard to get all of you comfortable with the music so we can put the best possible product on stage in a couple of months. To do this, we all need to work together. Please help us – particularly Andy at this point – by respecting everyone’s time and effort. If you’re having trouble accessing or understanding the calendar, let us know. Everyone should have access. Please look at it a week in advance and plan your schedule accordingly. Let Andy know – well ahead of time – if you can’t make a rehearsal. It may seem like a small thing to miss a rehearsal right now, but it all adds up. It’s also very hard to have a productive rehearsal when we don’t know who is going to be there. Please respect your collaborators and the process.

With all that said, we’ll continue to try to improve the communication process as well. We’re trying to find a stage manager to help with this. We’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again for your work. See you soon.

Dave Harlan
Director – Eden in Babylon
Artistic Director, Moscow Art Theatre (Too)

Obviously, I’m lucky to have a guy like Dave.  I’m lucky to be alive – let alone working on a project like this.   And who knows?   Maybe next time I’ll get to be the “good cop.”

 

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