The One Kickstarter You NEED to Support

Back in August of 2011 I went to go see something at the Historic Everett Theatre. Something amazing, something truly unique. It was called Aeterno Elementum and it was a Heavy Metal Opera. Just what is a Heavy Metal Opera? Well that’s what I asked when I went to go see it, and to this day I don’t think words can really do it justice, you really just have to see it.

And saying no really isn't an option.
And saying no really isn’t an option.

The short version is that Aeterno Elementum combines traditional operatic themes, badass on-stage fights between warriors wearing authentic armor and weapons, great onstage performances that tell a story of death and redemption set to the tune of deep and thrumming Heavy Metal music. I don’t even care that’s a run-on sentence, that’s how good this thing is. The long version is that you can read my original review right here, but seriously, its really good. Ara’Kus Productions, the guys who put this show on, have been continuing to put this show on the past two years since that review and it’s only grown bigger and better since I saw the original show. In fact it has gotten so big and so awesome, that it can no longer be contained. The people over at Ara’Kus have been putting on this show by using their own personal money to fund it, but now the show has grown so much they need help in order finance their upcoming performances in November. This will be the first time putting on a show two-weekends in a row and they’re looking to buy new sound and special effects equipment, new costumes and tons of other improvements.

Ara’Kus is hoping to raise 10,000 dollars to make this showing of Aeterno Elementum the greatest show ever seen on the stage of the Historic Everett Theatre, and if all goes as planned, expanding our performances to include Seattle and hopefully the rest of Washington. And then of course, World Domination.

The Vikings are growing restless...
The Vikings are growing restless…

I know I have a large international audience and you’re probably wondering why you should support a show you’re not even going to get a chance to see. Well first of all, the people of Ara’Kus are all amazing. Jeremiah Johnson is one of the most talented composers I’ve met, he must be because I don’t even like Heavy Metal music and yet I love Jeremiah’s songs. They also have some of the most talented musicians and singers I’ve ever seen and heard, from the beautiful and dazzling Electric Violin player Razz to the menacing baldness of lead guitarist Randy Haines to our elegant lead soprano Vivian, they’re all astonishing. Then there’s the actors, BJ Becker as I mentioned in my original review, has so much talent I don’t know why the guy isn’t on Broadway. Carrole Johnson plays the Demoness, who causes most of the havoc that occurs throughout the play, and she brings an astounding energy with her onto the stage.

And I'm not just talking about the fire she wields.
And I’m not just talking about the fire she wields.

Look I could spend all day talking about these guys, but the bottom line is that these are exceptional people that put their heart and soul into this project, and they need your support.

need your support.

You see when I went to go see that show in August of 2011, I had just been kicked out of college the year before, I was unemployed, depressed and had no idea what the hell I was going to do with myself. I was still writing this blog but it was only being read by my immediate friends and family, and I didn’t actually think I could make a living writing. Then I wrote that review, and Ara’Kus took me up on my offer to help them by writing for them, and that gave me a much needed boost to my self-confidence. I started trying to get work with a freelance writer, I grew more confident in my ability and knowledge as a writer. So when Mass Effect 3 came out Spring of 2012, I had the self-confidence and the practice to create this post which finally gave me the recognition I needed to actually start landing a few jobs.

So what I’m saying is that Ara’Kus is responsible for allowing me to so thoroughly eviscerate Mass Effect 3’s terrible ending. You wouldn’t be reading this blog were it not for them. Help me thank them for all they’ve done for me by helping them achieve the success and recognition they so richly deserve.

Donate right here.

(Or click any of the awesome pictures above, and they’ll take you to the Kickstarter as well!)

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Memoirs of a Stagehand

When I closed the curtain on the last Aeterno Elementum show for the year, it was the conclusion of the most stressful, intense, and downright scary experience I’ve had in years. It was also the most enriching, and downright fun experience I’ve had in years. Paradoxical? Yes. Would you expect any less from me?

First of all some background for those of you not reading my blog regularly: Back in August when I wrote the review of Aeterno Elementum, I was contacted by Ara’kus Productions and asked to help them out writing their newsletter as well as possibly helping out with their script, a task I was only too happy to help them with. Then they mentioned they needed a stagehand, a job which was described to me as mostly doing curtain cues and maybe moving some props. Sounds easy right? That’s what I thought too and agreed without hesitation, which is unusual for me since I’m usually conflicted in even the most simple of decisions.

Demonic mind control may have been involved

So last Wednesday I was asked to help out with building the set, and it was there I learned my first, very painful lesson about being a stagehand: building a set is  hard fucking work. And if there’s one thing my big flabby body doesn’t like, it’s hard work (and leafy greens.) I didn’t even really build it, the Ara’Kus carpenter/creepy effin monk Steve did most of that, all I did was help lug the pieces up the stairs (a lot of stairs). After a couple of hours of that every muscle in my body, which for years had lain dormant and unknown to me, were screaming in outrage at this sudden burst of physical activity. Fortunately I’ve been going to the gym the past couple of months, otherwise I have a feeling my body would have just refused to work any longer, leaving me flopping on the ground like a dying fish. Though if this burst of activity taught me anything, it’s that I’m clearly not doing enough at the gym, since even now I’m still feeling pain in muscles that clearly haven’t seen use in years. My muscles did not suffer in vain, however, because the stage was completed after a few hours and we all began a rough run through of Aeterno Elementum.

The second thing I learned about being a stagehand: It was a lot more complicated than I thought. Not only was I going to operating the curtain, I was going to be pulling props on and off the stage, operating the smoke machine, and actually appearing in the play as a member of the legions of the damned. Luckily it was a non-speaking role otherwise I would probably have descended into a jabbering, stuttering mess of an actor that would have made Elmer Fudd look downright eloquent. Still, the idea of me, a shy reclusive writer, going on stage in front of dozens of people was a daunting one. Scarier still, however, was just how important I was to the overall production. I wasn’t the lynchpin of the operation by any stretch of the imagination, but if I screwed up something it would leave a noticeable effect on the rest of the show and that alone was enough to put the pressure on me. I certainly didn’t want to be the one to turn a magnificent show into a show of amateurish failure. After that first run-through I thought that was exactly what was going to happen, every mistake that could be made, I made it. It’s a good thing I wasn’t handling any of the pyrotechnics that run through or I would have managed to burn down the entire city block.

"Oops...my bad"

I forgot my cues, which were difficult to follow since we weren’t working with the full cast, so it was sort of like trying to read a book where every other paragraph is missing. I  also kept getting in the way of our sound engineer, no matter where the poor guy went I seemed to be there, knee deep in the wires he was trying so hard to tape down for the show.  Finally, I had to engage that curtain in vicious hand-to-rope combat every time I opened or closed the curtain. I know, leave it to me to screw up something as simple as a curtain cue, but I’m telling you that damn rope had it in for me! You see, instead of one solid piece of rope for the curtain, it was actually two ropes tied together, meaning there was this giant baseball sized knot in the rope and every time I pulled the curtain, that knot would get stuck at the pulley. It was like trying to wrestle an anaconda who had just swallowed a moose. Luckily it was something I could solve with brute force, I just pulled on that rope like I was trying to rip it out of the ceiling and never gave that knot a chance to get stuck. It was a small victory, but at that point I was clinging onto whatever victories I could get.

The second run through, the next day, went a lot better and yet I couldn’t see past my own frustrations enough to notice. You get so caught up in your own troubles, sometimes you can miss what’s going on around you, and that almost happened to me. I would criticize myself for not doing something faster, or give myself a hard time over even small problems. I felt like the entire cast was carrying my dead weight. Sounds pretty miserable right, what could I have possibly gotten out of this experience?

What I got out the experience was one of the most amazing, and enriching experiences of my life, because I had the chance to work with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. Whenever I felt the stress getting to me, all I had to do was look around me: the Seattle Knights practicing their fights, Jeremiah and Randy playing with the rest of the band, BJ practicing his speech, the entire cast working together to put on the absolute best show they could. Whenever I saw that, my stress transformed into a calm determination, because I too wanted to make this the best production I could and I wasn’t about to let something like a crippling fear of appearing on stage stop me. More importantly I wasn’t about to disappoint all the great people that made this show possible.

Many of whom gave their lives for it! (Picture courtesy of Asraiya Deyo)

And that was truly the best part of the whole thing, the people and the memories. Jeremiah handing out fist bumps before the show. Richard flitting around the stage making me laugh. A reassuring handshake from Karl the Archbishop. Chatting with Susan while she applied my makeup. Watching Randy kick ass in his classical guitar solo.

It would take another entire blog post to list all the great memories I have of those two amazing nights, but let me just send out a huge thanks to everyone there, because you are all amazing people. And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to be a part of it.