Patricia!

I haven’t blogged for a bit, because my brain has been bouncing around with all this virus chaos, but while I sort out what profound wisdom I feel like sharing next (Haha! Just kidding. It’s just me venting!) I wanted to do another FABULOUS WOMAN I KNOW post.

This time, I want to tell you about my amazing my friend, Patricia Duran Hays. If you know her, you probably already know that she is wonderful, but if not.. Imma tell ya!

Patricia is one of my best friends. She is honest, loyal and wise. She has been there for me through every trial in my life since I’ve known her, with a calming presence and sound advice.

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The two of us a long time ago. I’m not even gonna say when, because I don’t even remember. 

She is also one of the most talented actresses I’ve ever seen. She is a superstar, literally. Last season, she won ‘Best Actress’ in The Houston Press for her work, and it was well-deserved.    She’s also a good singer, dancer, director and all around theater artist. She’s a founding member of my company, Mildred’s Umbrella, and has done everything from acting, directing. sound design, costume design, newsletter drafting.. whatever.  She’s also worked in almost every theatre in Houston now, and shines on stage in every role she’s in. I don’t think there’s anything  she can’t do. 

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When she won ‘Best Actress”

Anyway, she is AMAZING. If you want to see her acting bio, it’s here, but if you’ve ever seen her, you already know: Patricia bio

And, I know its not totally fair for someone to be this amazing AND gorgeous, but she’s also stunningly beautiful.

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Photo by Lyndsay Sweeney

Anyway, here’s a video I did for her on her birthday if you want to see it.

Birthday Video

So.. if you have any acting work right now that can be done under the current social distancing rules, I recommend her for it. Actors are out of work right now while the theatres are closed, and  this is one actor you definitely want to hire.

Love you, Trish! xoxo

Becky!!!

This week, I want to brag about another fabulous woman I know. Her name is Rebecca Ayres. She is a friend who is like a younger sister to me, and she is the other half of the dynamic duo that took Mildred’s Umbrella Theater to the next level (nobody is Robin. We are both Batman). 

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how she looked when I first met her. A baby! 

She has worked in the arts in Houston since 2003 (and I’m not lying that she was basically a child back then).  She worked with Diverse Works and Infernal Bridegroom, which was the coolest theater back then, and is now Catastrophic Theatre. That’s when I met her, but then she went off to travel for a while and got a degree at NYU in Anthropology and Comparative Literature, because she’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. She also started working for Mildred’s Umbrella here and there around 2007ish, doing set design and technical stuff for us. In 2012, she started helping more with the administrative side, and served as our Managing director for several years. Because of her, we now have a database, a ticketing service that we can control, and organized files that we can actually find.

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This is the only photo I can find of us working together, by our friend Eric Doss. This is us in NYC getting an award from the American Theatre Wing for our theatre company. 

While she was doing all that organizing for us, she also went and got a  Master’s degree in Arts leadership, and is working at a fancy job now at the American Heart Association, but still helping me with the theater when I ask because I basically can’t live without her. 

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this is how bad-ass she is like ALL THE TIME. 

She is a huge supporter of animals, and has gone above and beyond over and over to rescue hurt and lost animals that she finds or hears about. She’s also a pet whisperer. I think she talks to them telepathically, or she knows their language or something. 

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Anyway, she’s super smart, pretty, compassionate, organized and she can lift a couch by herself because she does that Cross-Fit stuff that I wouldn’t dare try because I would die. She is funny and nice, but she doesn’t suffer fools. 

The last photo is courtesy of Gentle Bear Photography, btw..

Hooray for Becky!!  

Cathy Power!!

I haven’t blogged in a while, because a lot of stuff has gone on for me recently, but I’m overdue for a post about an amazing woman I have the privilege of knowing.

This one is about CATHY POWER.  Power is her name, and she lives up to it as an artist and as a person.

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First of all, she is an incredibly talented musician. In addition to all the instruments she can play, she’s a beautiful singer.  I remember the first time I heard her singing voice. I was helping a band called THE MISFIRES get gigs, and she was the singer on their recorded demo CD, and I thought she had one of the prettiest voices I’d ever heard. Then I saw her in a couple of shows at Infernal Bridegroom and later Catastrophic, and it turns out, she is a good actress, too. I’ve gotten to know her a bit since then, and I’ve discovered that she’s also just a really good person. She always jumps in to help when she can, and she is kind and compassionate. Recently, she jumped right in to help me find a way to re-home some cats because she is just good-hearted. 

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Here is her official bio: 

Cathy Power is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Cathy composes and performs with Two Star Symphony when they play as an eight-piece band. She recently worked with them on a new composition for Dominic Walsh and Whim W’him Dance Company to be performed live in Seattle in January 2016. She also recently contributed as a composer and performer to the critically acclaimed album Seven Deadly Sins, which was released in 2015. Cathy also performs and records with the band, Merel and Tony and The Woe Woe Woes. Cathy was a member of the Infernal Bridegroom Productions company and orchestra for over ten years and is currently a member of The Catastrophic Theatre Orchestra. Among the many highlights of her career are playing Laurie in Speeding Motorcycle, a rock opera based on the life and work of Daniel Johnston, being named “Best Spectacle” in 2001 by the Houston Press for her work as a performance artist, being a musical presenter at TedX Houston, being recognized with Two Star by TALA as 2012’s Artist of the Year, and winning awards two years in a row working as a composer with Hot Pixel Action for Houston’s 48 Hour Film Project.

 

I totally recommend checking out her work. She will also be playing with one of her bands, Houston’s A.S.S. ( an accordion cover band), at Mildred’s Umbrella’s WOMEN ROCK! Fundraiser at Rudyards on Feb 22. 

 

Here is her website. 

https://cathypowermusic.wordpress.com/?fbclid=IwAR2JqzKJKkKhT6hUhvrnojmZYl6RethJCwsdAb5tFpv34xi_oCxM5DVvXWg

 

Wonder Woman, or Leighza Walker?

I was working on another blog post, but it was getting a little negative, and being that it is Thanksgiving weekend, I want to do something positive, so I’m going to tell you about another amazing woman I have the pleasure to know.

Her name is Leighza Walker, and she runs Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company’s (the company I founded in 2001) short play festival, Museum of Dysfunction. She took the festival over a couple of years ago and breathed new life into it after a couple of years of me phoning it in because I was too busy with our other productions.  For this, I am eternally grateful to her, but that’s not the only thing she does.

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In addition to running a play festival, Leighza is  a performance artist, actor, director, storyteller, set designer, producer, and award winning playwright who studied with Edward Albee. Her play Fishing (which she also directed) won the Broadway World Editor’s Choice Award for Best New Play in 2013.  She’s performed in many plays as an actress, directed many others and Her one woman shows, Leighzaland: Declaration of a Sovereign Nation, Observations from the LeighzaSphere, and Welcome to the LeighzaHood premiered at Station Theater in 2015 and are being developed for touring.  She was selected in 2012 by the Houston Press as one of “100 Creatives” and is the Executive Director (and Queen) of Leighzaland, a non-profit organization dedicated to producing new work and supporting artists in their endeavor to create art.

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Here is a picture of her being a goddess.

She is also a mom and an amazing friend. Seriously, if she loves you, nobody had better mess with you, because she will go after them like a mama bear until they leave you alone.  She is not scared.

I’m not trying to out her or anything, but I have never seen her in the same place as Wonder Woman, so I’m going with the assumption that they are one and the same.

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See what I mean?

So, this blog post is to honor Leighza in a public way to thank her for letting me know her and for being my friend. Here’s her Leighzaland Facebook page if you want to see more stuff about her. https://www.facebook.com/Leighzaland-Productions-153087758081832/

 

 

 

The Amazing Ronlyn Domingue!

Today  in ‘Fabulous ladies I know’, I want to talk about Ronlyn Domingue, who is my oldest friend, and who is a very successful novelist nowadays. I am very proud of her. 

I met her when I was 10 years old. I’d just moved to Lafayette Louisiana, and was going to a new school there. I was used to new schools because I  generally went to a different one every year. It was the oil boom in the 80’s, and every time the wind shifted, we moved. I learned to make friends pretty quickly, and to move on just as quickly when it was time to leave a place, but there was one person that I stayed friends with through all that chaos, and that was Ronlyn.

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 She welcomed the new girl that first week, and we’ve been friends ever since. We didn’t have social media or email then, and getting kids to keep in touch through letter writing was always a long shot, but when I moved back to Houston, Ronlyn always wrote to me, and even when I sometimes got lazy about writing back, she persisted until I did. 

That’s her on the left, and me in the back (somehow, I’m the tall one!).  Laura, a friend I lost touch with (Ronlyn didn’t, of course!) is in the front. 

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Even when Ronlyn was 10 years old, she was going to be a writer. At the time, I decided I was, too,  and we even wrote a book together. It was terrible, and nobody but the two of us ever needs to see it, but it still exists. Over the years, I didn’t stick with writing in a dedicated way, but she did.  Now she is an internationally published author of four novels, as well as essays and short stories. Her first novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, has been published in 10 languages and has been nominated for big book awards.  It’s a beautiful book, if you’re looking for some good holiday reading. 

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She is also a fabulous cook, a lover of nature and animals, and one of the best human beings I’ve ever met. I am enormously proud of her, and I’m so glad we have remained friends. 

 

If you want to see more about her or read her books, it’s all on her website: http://www.ronlyndomingue.com/

 

 

Elizabeth A.M. Keel, The Fabulous!

For the November 2019 installment of the ‘Fabulous people I have the privilege of knowing’ series, I would like to tell you about Elizabeth A. M. Keel! 

 

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Courtesy of Elizabeth A.M. Keel

Elizabeth is one of the most multi-talented people I’ve ever met. I knew her first as a playwright who had studied with Edward Albee and Lanford Wilson at University of Houston. In 2010, the theatre I founded, Mildred’s Umbrella, produced her play ‘Notions of Right and Wrong’. She was involved in the process of it, so we got to know each other in that capacity a bit.

A couple of years later, we acted together in ‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.’ So, yeah.. She can do that, too, and afterwards, she offered to write a play specifically for Mildred’s Umbrella, which you can catch in the spring at the DeLuxe theatre (details at mildredsumbrella.com ).  Her work has also been produced by several other theatres in Houston and beyond.

Since our original meeting, I discovered that she is not only a playwright and an actor, but also an accomplished dramaturg, a fabulous teacher, a director and even a novelist!

Recently, she has become the literary manager  and resident playwright for our company, and I’ve discovered that not only is she artistically talented, but also organized, reliable and someone I can trust to get a job done if she says she’s going to do it. Do you even know how rare that is? She’s like a freakin’ unicorn. 

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Stages Repertory Theatre – Young Actors Conservatory 2019

All of this…. and the cherry on the top of her wonderfulness is that she is one of the most photogenic people I’ve ever seen. There is never a bad photo of this woman. 

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If you want to know more about her, you can read all the stuff here. Her accomplishments are endless: elizabethamkeel.com.

I just wanted to tell everyone about her! 

 

Olivia (aka Poopy Lungstuffing)

Sometimes I am so busy, and I don’t have head space to write my own ideas.. So I decided that every now and then, I should use my blog to celebrate someone I know who is amazing so other people will know how amazing she is. 

Today, I will honor my friend, Olivia Dvorak, AKA Poopy Lungstuffing. I got permission to blog about her, but I didn’t want to invade her privacy by using an unauthorized picture of her, so here’s a picture of her doll collection at Super Happy Funland, a music venue that she co-founded. 

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She is one of the cleverest musicians/songwriters I’ve ever known.  She downplays it herself, but she’s even had musicians cover her songs internationally. She played the ukulele before it was cool. She’s an original, one of a kind, amazing artist. She’s also incredibly cute, smart and funny.  Don’t crowd her space if you ever meet her, though. She gets overwhelmed by that (so do I, actually, so I get it). She explains in some of her songs why this is a thing. She’s open and self-aware about her issues, and also recognizes pain in others, which is why I love her songs so much.  

Here is her singing one of my favorite songs in the world (an original by her) “Dolly Got a Haircut” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb3bli6I1R0

Below are some more songs of hers. Some of them are funny, some are sad.. My favorite one is ‘The Thing That Eats Only Food’. I pretty much love all of them, because the lyrics are amazing. That one always gets me, though. 

Here’s an album she made: https://poopylungstuffing.bandcamp.com/

She was featured in this article about Houston’s most eccentric musicians (number 1, in fact) https://www.houstonpress.com/music/houstons-10-most-eccentric-musicians-6524546

Here’s a cover of  her song, ‘Dolly Got a Haircut’  by a musician in Finland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQtxuUVPFvQ

Anyway, do check out her songs. She’s incredible. I’ve always been a huge fan. 

 

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