Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013

I had dreams of a little girl on toward morning. 
I'll have to tackle those tangled locks.
I ploughed ahead and finished a first draft of my prose book, What Next, Miss Mommy?  I waited till late in the day to print, read it and edit.

The book draft is dismaying – a huge disappointment that displays both redundancy and gaping holes – much work remains to be done. But I guess that’s what first drafts are for, and at least I got a poem out of it – a poem titled "Redundancies and Gaping Holes."
As I sit here at dawn, I realize that she who came into my dreams was Laura. Furthermore I realize I never did know how to untangle her or her hair – and she wouldn’t let me touch it.
I am heartened. Laura knows what I’m doing. She wants to do it herself.
Back then, when she was 5 or 6 there was a terrible standoff, and I had to hurt her: Without scissors I had to get rid of the matted tangle at the nape of her neck. Tears were shed.
Once I’d done so, I gave her the hairbrush and said, “You’re on your own from now on, babe.”

Laura needs to write the book.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

You're invited

Frederica von Stade, Jake Heggie and Charlene Baldridge
The world premiere of Winter Roses, Santa Barbara, 2004

You are cordially invited to attend the filming of The Backstory: Jake and Flicka and Laura and Me, a brief chat with poet/playwright/critic Charlene Baldridge, author of the extraordinary play, The Warriors’ Duet. The intimate event is open to the public. Free will donations to benefit Colon Cancer Alliance in Washington, D. C.

By special request of legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and composer Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick) Charlene delivered the original talk in August 2013 while aboard the cruise ship Yorktown, traversing the locks in Canada’s Welland Canal. Sadly, von Stade and her husband had to leave the ship early due to a family emergency, so the diva missed Charlene’s talk, and the composer requested a video.

Charlene will be filmed by director James Vasquez as she talks about the magic she’s experienced since meeting Heggie in San Francisco in 2000; the thrill, at age 70, of having him set her poetry in a song cycle premiered by von Stade; and the formation of lasting friendships between the composer, his husband, and their son with Charlene’s late daughter, Laura Jeanne Morefield.

There’s much more to reveal. If you value music and language and love, you will want to hear Charlene tell the story of what’s yet to come.

The event takes place at 7 pm Monday, November 18, at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. in University Heights.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Don't miss The Warriors' Duet!

Reviewing two years of labor on Labor Day 2013

My labors over the past two years mostly had to do with the work of my late daughter Laura Jeanne Morefield. The fruit, so far, includes the realization of Laura's poetry chapbook titled The Warrior’s Stance, and most recently a theatre work, The Warriors’ Duet, which had a sellout run at the inaugural San Diego Fringe Festival in July and is being remounted by Circle Circle dot dot at the White Theatre, Liberty Station later this week, September 5-8.

Samantha Ginn and company
Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

First, you must read Samantha Ginn’s wondrous essay on performing in The Warriors’ Duet. Then you must watch a few scenes  from Circle Circle dot dot’s beautiful realization of the text, staged by Artistic Director Katherine Harroff and choreographer Anne Gehman. The full production utilizes music by American composer Jake Heggie. 

Sam's essay elicited the following note from Greg Santilli, who came down with his family in July, saw the performance, and met Sam, who plays Laura and Kathi Copeland, who portrays the mother.

The Santilli faily with Samantha, and Kathi
July 2013 at the Fringe

 Happy Labor Day weekend to you!

I just read what Samantha had to say - just beautiful!  It's amazing to me that even now, Laura continues to affect the lives of others, in a positive and hopeful way, just like she did when she was alive.  You must be so proud!  And thank you so much for what you are doing to honor her memory and her wishes!  It's truly awesome!

I fondly look back at the three plus years that I had the privilege of working with Laura at the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.  It was a true honor!  In one of the e-mails that Laura sent me after her diagnosis, she stated, "God never forsakes us."  I can't tell you how often I think about her saying that, and how it helps me transgress the seemingly never-ending challenges that life throws our way.  In fact I just shared Laura's quote recently with my son Robert to help him with some issues that are causing him stress at work.  I know it helped him, and will continue to help him.

Please know that Laura is in our hearts and minds forever, and will never be forgotten!

God Bless!

Greg Santilli

As you can well imagine, my hope is that Warriors will live on and bless many others. I will do what I can to promote other productions, but truly it is in God's hands. I must be patient. Try telling that to one who is 79 years old. Being human, I want everything to happen NOW. Then I realize I must pray for more years so that I can continue to be the shepherd and caregiver. Already, seeing and reading Laura’s works have changed people’s lives in ways that we may never realize or know. 
Samantha Ginn and Kathi Copeland
Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

The writing of The Warriors’ Duet blessed me in many ways. Personally, it brought me catharsis and peace. The revelation at the end of the work was surprising and comforting to this bereft mother. And of course the work was the direct result of Laura’s finagling in my dreams. Then seeing its effect and knowing that through it people know Laura is the gravy.

When I told a friend of the work’s surprising denouement yesterday, she asked, “Do you believe that?” and I said yes, adding that the important thing is that Laura believed it.

At some point this year composer Jake Heggie will come down to play his Laura-based work for me. I simply must be there when his commission, a concerto for soprano, cello and orchestra that incorporates Laura’s text "The Work at Hand," is premiered by Pittsburgh Symphony in the fall of 2014. Now, that is REALLY gravy. Laura must be chuckling, for it came about through her own bravery in sending Jake her ten favorite poems. She seldom sent her work to anyone. Miracles do happen when we are brave.

Laura at the Dallas opening of Jake Heggie's
June 2010

The Warriors' Duet
Art by Justin Warren Martin
Directed by Katherine Harroff and Anne Gehman and
 choreographed by Anne Gehman Written by Charlene Baldridge
Based on the work of Laura Jeanne Morefield and Charlene Baldridge

Performance Dates: September 5th@8pm, 6th@8pm, 7th@8pm and 8th@2pm

Location: The White Box Theater at Liberty Station,
2590 Truxtun Road, Studio 205 San Diego, CA 92106

For tickets and directions go to

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Warriors' Redux

Art by Justin Warren Martin

I'm jumping the gun a little to let readers and fans know that because of its astonishing, sellout success at the Fringe Festival, my theatre work titled The Warriors' Duet, based upon the writing of my daughter, Laura Jeanne Morefield,will be remounted by Circle Circle dot dot September 5-8 at the White Box Theatre at Liberty Station. All the performers are returning to the piece so beautifully co-directed by Anne Gehman and Katherine Harroff and choreographed by Anne Gehman. For reservations and more information, go to

Samantha Ginn as Laura
Kathi Copeland as Mom

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reading Laura on the Welland Canal

Reading Laura’s Poetry on the Welland Canal

I’ve been entertaining in public for as long as I can remember
but never have I competed with engines and the scraping of
locks, bottom and sides, aboard a ship in the Welland Canal.

Flicka commanded a performance of our poetry, yours and mine,
and then departed the ship abruptly. My wishes for the accomplishment of her merciful mission are prayers I’m sure you heard even as I complied at the appointed hour, reading Jake’s request “Straightening the Edges.” So it became a mother/daughter affair, continuing with “Motherwit” and forgiveness. Then I read your poem “Selah,” the one about the bubbles, and ended with “The Work at Hand,” the poem that Jake will set. You placed it at the top of the stack of poems you sent him two months before you died.

You’ll be happy to know that lest I complete all your assignments,
Jake is making them now in your stead, requesting a video recording of
my performance as if I have the power to recreate that moment,
as if henceforth in my endeavors I should have my own identity, 
separate and distinct from you. 


Direct from composer Jake Heggie's mouth to your ear

Now it can be told almost in full. My late daughter Laura Jeanne Morefield's poem, "The Work at Hand," will provide the text for Jake's concerto for soprano, cello and symphony orchestra, to be premiered in November 2014. The symphony commissioning the work is the Pittsburgh! What we still don't know is who the soprano will be.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Warriors' Duet completes SRO performances

The Warriors' Duet
Completes Sellout First Engagement

Samantha Ginn gives Fringe Central patrons a taste of
Warriors the night before opening
The Warriors’ Duet, a play based upon my late daughter Laura Jeanne Morefield’s poetry, saw the last of its sellout San Diego Fringe Festival engagements at 10th Avenue Theatre Cabaret Sunday, July 7, 2013.

The play received a prize for best selling Cabaret production. Directed by Katherine Harroff and Anne Gehman and choreographed by Gehman, the piece featured Kathi Copeland as Mom and Samantha Ginn as Laura, as well as a company of amazing, dedicated and emotive dancers. They were Matt Carney and Shaun Tuazon as the men in Laura and her mom’s lives; and Desiree Cuizon, Maria Juan, Soroya Rowley, and Stephanie Smith. Each was selected for his/her unique qualities.

I am extremely grateful to everyone for this realization of the text, which began as a 2012 staged reading directed by Claudio Raygoza at ion theatre. I’m also grateful to composer Jake Heggie for allowing us to use fragments of music from his album, Facing Forward/Looking Back.

Jake began setting my poems soon after the premiere of his first opera, Dead Man WalkingBefore her diagnosis, Laura and I attended the opening of Santa Monica's Broad Stage to hear the premiere of a Heggie work titled Facing Forward/Looking Back, which features my poem “Motherwit.” She and I went to Houston for the premiere of Jake's second opera, The End of the Affair, in 2003 and also to the opening of the Ellie Opera House in Denver in 2005 for the premiere of his At the Statue of Venus. 

In 2008 Laura, Jake, Frederica von Stade and I were  shipmates on a Crystal Symphony Black Sea cruise. This magnificent trip to Russia proved the last mother/daughter excursion before Laura’s fatal diagnosis. Nonetheless, during a week off from chemotherapy in 2010, Laura insisted we attend the Dallas world premiere of Jake’s opera Moby-Dick. She declared Heggie her favorite composer and subsequently, during a last ditch attempt to find a cure at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, she and Dan saw Dead Man Walking. So she and Jake were profoundly acquainted as well as contemporary in age. Laura even played 18 holes of golf with his teenage son shortly after Moby-Dick's premiere. She trusted Jake so completely that she sent him her ten favorite poems two months before she died. In 2014 he will set Laura’s extraordinary poem “The Work at Hand” in a concerto for soprano, cello and orchestra. Locale TBA.

“The Work at Hand” is part of The Warriors’ Duet. Due to the incredible success of Warriors at the Fringe there is talk of a remount very soon. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you will find links to reviews and a photo gallery below.  

Reviews of The Warriors' Duet

James Hebert SD Union-Tribune

Samantha Ginn, Kathi Copeland
and company members
in dress rehearsal
Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

Kris Eitland at San Diego Story

Carol Davis, The Examiner

Photo Gallery:

Matt Carney and Samantha Ginn
in rehearsal for The Warriors' Duet
Photo by Rich Soublet

Laura's step brother Darrell Baldridge
Samantha Ginn and Laura's husband,
Dan Morefield
Anton Denikin, Charlene, Laura's brother Charlie Ortego,
Anya Ortego and Tatiana Denikin
Photo courtesy of Robert Hampton
Samantha Ginn and Charlene Baldridge
Photo courtesy of Robert Hampton

Lauren and Ann Santilli,
Samantha Ginn, Greg Santilli
and Kathi Copeland