A Challenging Performance Space February 17, 2011Posted by jayocallahan in Uncategorized.
Last week I was in Long Beach, California to tell my story FORGED IN THE STARS to a NASA gathering called Project Management Challenge 2011.
I arrived a day early and was astounded to see the place where I would tell my story. It was like a vast warehouse. There were to be 1,500 people to be sitting at round tables, twelve to a table, which meant the people in the very back so far back that they would see only tiny figures up on the stage.
I calmed down a bit when I had my tech rehearsal in the afternoon. The sound people were very warm and knew their business well. The manager of the building was willing to turn off half of the lights. He was unwilling to make it totally dark because that could be a big safety problem. I was to perform the following morning and relaxed by going to a pizza place across the street. I felt very welcomed there. I had my spaghetti with clam sauce and talked to the manager who had become my friend the day before and I was able to sleep well.
The next morning the NASA people arrived in the vast space at seven thirty in the morning. There were talks and then a panel and then finally at eight forty in the morning I was introduced by Dr. Ed Hoffman. He agreed to ask people to stand up and stretch. That was wise so as he introduced me they could all stretch and move and then it was turned over to me. The lights were turned down a bit and that was a signal that something different was happening. I began the story and as I began to relax I realized the people in this vast room were listening. There was a great sense of quiet. A strange thing happens to a performer. Something inside seems to grow so that even people in the very back seemed well within reach. It’s a strange mystery that a power just overtakes one.
At the end I was delighted of course with a standing ovation but even more delighted to talk with Buzz Aldrin who was the second person to step foot on the moon. Lewis Peach who’s been a great help arranging all my NASA performances, told me Buzz had been weeping during some of the story.
Buzz is a very warm man. He’s tan and gives no sense of being eighty years old. He was telling me about a science fiction story he’s creating and in addition to that he told me about books he’s writing and lectures he’s thinking about. Here’s this man who went to MIT and became the second person to step on the moon and is still delighted to be alive and creating.
I left Long Beach a little sad because I was leaving warmth and blue sky behind but I was excited that this challenge turned into a wonderful experience.