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A Challenging Performance Space February 17, 2011

Posted 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.



1. Lauretta Phillips - February 17, 2011

Way to go my friend. It does sound challenging but if anyone can do it, you can. Someday I will be so brave and so confident. I guess my confidence has to be in the story. You have a right to be confident in that story. It is terrific.

2. Kevin Dunn - February 17, 2011

I got chills reading your account and it wasn’t the Marshfield weather.


3. Sally Eiler Cordova - February 18, 2011

I’ve had the experience of doing workshops in huge community rooms with hundreds of people at tables. Some have worked, some not so much. I envision you taking on this challenge as a single voyager setting off into deep space seeking to communicate with whomever or whatever is out there. You made contact. (The Voyager project is a mystical experience for me). I am also familiar with the artist in Buzz Aldrin. I saw him once at a shuttle launch but was unable to talk to him. I’m glad the two of you have made contact.

4. Roger Armstrong - February 18, 2011

No doubt I and many others will remember your blog the next time we are faced with that sort of venue. We are not always blessed with a warm sound crew, attentive hosts, or audiences that listen. But when all the stars are in allignment, story magic happens! Thanks, Jay!

5. Pat Schneider - February 21, 2011

Jay, I am so happy to read this beautiful report. I feel like that wondrous character whose name escapes me right now being 76 and of feeble mind — who used to stand on stage with a ridiculous hat that had a price tag hanging from it, and say “I’m jist as proud to know ya!”



6. Karen Cormie - March 6, 2011

Jay, Jay, Jay….

Thank you for articulating so well Buzz’s visual and auditory respond to your performance. I am in awe of this blog’s entirety. Your feelings show and are enevitablty heartfelt. Thank you for sharing.

Karen Cormie

7. Karen Cormie - March 6, 2011

Once again, like so many times before, you have brought me into a world of indiffernce and creativity by your thoughts and acclamades.

8. Karen Cormie - March 6, 2011

Sorry… spelled accolades wrong. But I think you know what I am geting at.

9. kcteller - February 7, 2013

There is a rich wonder in the work. It sounds like Buzz, dare I say you, now that all too well. Why do we have to quit anything we love? We can slow down, speed up, but why leave a world that we love? Thanks Jay for all you give and for your listening strength.
Kevin Cordi

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