A Memorial Day Remembrance -- You have changed my life -- Thank You!


Someone, a few days ago posed an important question.  What was the one thing, or personal single, one resource, blog, book or website that really changed your life, or inspired you to be who you are today?

With the Bible being the most obvious answer for me, and Jesus the central character most influential in changing my life completely. There are many people who have played significant roles in helping me change my life at key turning points in time.

One profound life changer was a person named Ed Ragozzino.  He passed away in January 2010.  While I knew of him he lived and worked out of Eugene, Oregon. Ed Ragozzino gave myself and many others a simple bit of advice that has changed everything, and forever, in the most positive of ways.  I only wished I would have had the opportunity to thank him for the profound impact he has had on my life. 

Ed Ragozzino was the head of the Performing Arts department, and a Theater Director of great skill and respect in his community.


What Mr. Ragozzino did for me, he did as a teacher, and as an employer.  One summer I worked in his office while he went on vacation to Hawaii with his family.  Shortly before that time I had been taking an Elements of Acting: Voice class at Lane Community College in Eugene.  The class was taught by various theater arts instructors.  While in this class, Ed Ragozzino taught it just one day, but the advice he gave that day, I took to heart, and put into practice at that time and have continued to follow that advice, and will continue throughout the rest of my life.

Ed's simple yet powerful suggestion was for anyone who felt they lacked confidence, or were insecure about being able to present themselves as an actor or even a human being. Mr. Ragozzino said that if you'rer shy and need to develope confidence, to get away somewhere by yourself and begin reading things out loud.  Read the Bible, read Time magazine, read anything and everything you can get your hands on, but read them out loud. I have been doing this ever since.  What it did for me happened very quickly, and was in effect a pernament change for the better.

I will always remember and be thankful for Ed Ragozzino and the impact he had on my life. I could go on and on about all the great things that have happened as a result of taking his advice.

While working in his office that summer, my job was to remove all of his books from his very well filled book shelf in preparations for the painters that would be re-doing the office that summer. He jokingly said, "Your job was to remove all of these books, take them home and read all of them out loud. Cover to cover." I've been doing that now for years.  I do much of my reading out loud.  I used to frequently doze off while reading in my early college days, but after doing as Ed suggested, I found it to be great fun, to read out loud, to try on different voices, to play the parts of all of the characters in a story.  I became not merely a passive reader, but an active participant in every thing I read.

After taking Ed Ragozzino's advice and reading aloud, I found that much of my initial shyness and lack of self confidence merely faded away.  I found myself in a short period of time talking to more people than I had talked to over the course of my whole life up until that point.  Prior to that I had a terrible fear of using the phone, of simply calling someone up for some bit of information. 

For me, I had to get used to hearing the sound of my own voice.  Ed taught that the actor's voice is one of the most powerful and important tools he owns.  I still, by nature consider myself a bit of a shy person, an introvert at heart, but now I know that I can rise to the challenge and interact with just about anyone any situation will call for.  At some points in my ongoing studies of Communication Arts, I've had the opportunity to enquire of others into how they might view me and my personality.  Several people have said that to them I appear to be very confident and self assured.  This is not how I've often seen myself, but when I look at my actions objectively I can see how the perception of confidence can be seen in me.

In answering the original question -- it was not solely a blog, or a book, or a website, but a theater director, and acting coarch who has recenlty passed away.  I will always remember and be thankful for Ed Ragozzino and the impact he had on my life.  I could go on and on about all the great things that have happened as a result of taking his advice.
For additional information on the life and contributions of Ed Ragozzino please see the following links.

http://special.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sites/web/updates/24403951-55/eugene-ragozzino-theater-arts-center.csp

http://edragozzinomemorial.wordpress.com/

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