Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curtains Up, Light the Lights.


Long day.

12 hours.

But I can't complain because it was relatively smooth. And the crew works way harder and longer than I did anyway.

It's a pretty amazing team they have here. Not only is everyone talented, everyone is a DEAR.

Costumes and moving platforms and pyro and lights and sound and songs and quick changes. Some ridiculous quick changes! Wow. I hope I can do them.

It seems very unreal that a show is about to happen. It seems farther away then it has yet, even though it's inching closer and we open on Friday.

My nerves and insecurities are rampant but I have to remind myself that nobody wants to hear them. They type of attitude you have hinders your career as much as a lack of talent, and I know I can be insufferable with my anxiety. So I'm trying to keep it in check, or at least hidden, even though I am still worried about my work. My friend and mentor was telling me that I have to be more positive. He is a Secret believer and thinks that I'm attracting my bad luck by being pessimistic. Trying to believe, trying to believe.

Because really I'm only negative about myself. I'm in a great production with an amazing group of people. Every day I get paid to play, and I never thought that would be possible. After so many people telling me it could never happen, I am working, and that's the goal in theatre, to just book work. I just want to be as good as everything around me.

And I will be!

And I'm on a website!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

One week, will it ever be right?


I never have super fun times due to a ridiculous number of insecurities and a propensity towards inactivity and crying, but whenever I do they are so SUPER FUN TIMES.

Doing a show out of town has some fairly significant drawbacks, but it is really fun too. Namely that you get to be driven around by an 18 year old Sudburian, who takes you to gay bars and then picks you up and takes you to a party where you can't get in BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO OLD and then shows you the Sudbury After Dark tour!

So fun.

And now I can say I danced in Sudbury! Jen, who is Alice in the play, and is just a huge inspiration because she is so happy and positive, says whenever you go anywhere you should dance so that you can say you danced there after. It's good advice.

I was almost not going to go out because I'm worried that I'm not doing a good job, and I felt I had to stay responsible and be at home worrying. I"m a tiny bit sick as well....Coughy McGee.....but I went out. Because what am I going to do at home worrying? That isn't the work. I don't think it is, at least. I'm trying to push through this thing....I don't know what it is. This feeling of things never being good enough, this constant worry. I wonder if it ever goes away. If there is a point when I've done enough shows or received enough acclaim or made enough money or am in some way the kind of success I want to be, which I can't even articulate now, but one day I achieve it and the worry goes away. My mom thinks if I took voice lessons it would go away.....I don't know.

It's hard to work with though. It crushes away at a genuine joy that I do have for the work. Sometimes I think it feeds me, that being a perfectionist means I work harder and the work is better, but sometimes it just means that the work is harder and I am never happy.

The STC crew is pretty amazing....they were pulling 30 plus hour days and still smiling, still working...it's a pretty incredibly positive place. I have such a tendency to work out of negativity and frustration, to never think I can be positive or relaxed, and then I kept getting myself in environments where this was encouraged. It's surprising and wonderful to be in such a gentle, happy place.

Except for some reason I am pensive in this picture. BUT REALLY I AM HAPPY!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Kind of Girl is She?

I have lots of parts in this play. Joy joy joy.

First off is an 'Ensemble' member. We're this troupe of travelling players who do Alice in Wonderland. So I am kind of a clowny, happy person who loves performing for children. Because this is essentially who I am in real life (save for my curmudgeonly bitterness and hatred for all living things), this part is fun for me. I actually love doing the narration bits. Maybe that means instead of being an actor I should be some sort of infomercial saleswoman, or game show host.

Then I play 'Alice's Sister'. Now, Alice's sister is kind of a bitch. Alice just wants to hang out, yo. And the Sister is all, 'I have to read my book'. Pfft. What's her deal? Why you gotta read, sister? PRINT IS DEAD! So anyway, she's a bit of a jerk and really boring. She just thinks she's better than everyone else because she has a damn book.

This is the Mouse. I love the mouse because she stutters and is nervous and shy, which is also just like how I am! The mouse is hanging out with a bunch of birds for some reason that is never explained. Why would a mouse hang with birds? Including an eagle, which is a natural bird of prey. The Mouse in the book has a story in the shape of a tail, but I just have a funny voice and four lines. But I love the Mouse. She's cute. I get a tail!

Then there is the Caterpillar.

I kind of hate the Caterpillar.

I love the character and I'm so happy to get a chance to play this iconic thing, but I'm kind of terrible at it. So far, anyway. I haven't found the way to do it yet. And there is a lot to think about, I am standing on this moving platform and other actors are my arms and, anyway, I am dreadful. The Caterpillar is my great shame right now in the play. I don't even know why.

I also suck at playing the Duchess!

HAHAHAHAHA I am not cut out for the stage.

But the Duchess gets a crazy hat!

The Duchess is also one where I have a lot to deal with and I struggle with that. I have a baby and we have to throw the baby and sneeze and I guess it is all too much for my tiny dinosaur brain because so far the only way I have coped is forgetting my lines and failing.

Those two scenes are back to back and they are the parts that I kind of go 'ugh'. SO FAR. Things change. I keep trying to tell myself that I have a week to get it together. But, shit, that doesn't seem like enough. Argh. I have to love these characters more. Throw love at the problem, throw love at the problem.

Then I am the Tiger Lily! I love the Tiger Lily! When I first went through my script I didn't even pay much attention to the flowers. Its a very short scene, I didn't immediately click with Tiger Lily, so I kind of just flipped through it and didn't pay much attention. Then I realized that I was really far behind with my Tiger Lily development and then I just TALKED IN A TERRIBLE ACCENT and all of a sudden I had a character and it was my favorite scene. I really can't wait to see the costume of that one....it's going to be so beautiful!

And then I am the Queen of Hearts.

None of these costumes look anything like these shitty drawings. They are beautiful and amazing and people who have that skill stun me into submission. I just pray that I don't spill anything on their beautiful creations. NO EATING IN COSTUME.

Queen of Hearts is weird because I'm really not doing a character for her. I don't have a voice that is really different from my own. She's more of a human, but a ridiculously exaggerated human. I have been trying to give her a speech impediment, because I think she should have one. Again, I don't know why.

And these are the people I am all day.

I just realized that most people spend time making sure horrible pictures of them DON'T get online. I am never going to find a husband.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Nicest Kids in Town





It's just about the best thing I've ever heard.

Our 18 year old AD Alessandro, who is, of course, my favorite person ever, taught us all about 'dwai' and continues to teach us how to 'dwai'. Our cast has adopted it. Some of us are better at it than others.

Our cast is very cute. We've been hanging out. Yay for cast bonding. It is so weird here....we only know each other!

Day off day off day off, hooray I will waste the day but enjoy wasting it so much because I love watching stuff on my computer and really doing nothing. I'm probably far too lazy to be in theatre. But I know deep down that I love working very intensely; I just also really like to rest too! My incredibly overwhelming and extreme personality means I like things very much one way, or very much the other.

The work is great. We seem to be zipping along and the show has a very definite shape and lots of things are in place. However, there's lots of costumes and changing and opening doors and closing them and going into the audience and lights and music and stuff, so I'm sure things will change lots.

I have to change lots.....my characters are not distinct enough. I'm disappointed int he work that I've been doing. Some days are ok, but some of them are kind of blah. I know an unfortunate thing about me as an actor is that shit takes me a long time. I wish I got things quickly but I do have to struggle through. I build. I change. I wish I was someone who showed up on day one and was great, but it's not the way. I'm a struggler. I'm a lost boy. I'm a turtle.

I'm a Hufflepuff.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

We'll Start With the Seed of an Idea

Work work work.

There are so many things that go into doing a play. I'm so hard on theatre but it is a continual wonder that anything ever goes up at all and that there aren't more horrible injuries and catastrophic things.

Knock wood.

This play has lots of 'stuff'. It is momentarily overwhelming, from scene to scene, character to character, but ultimately really fun. And we haven't even seen more of the 'stuff' yet. It is coming in by the day.

Cats. Mushrooms. Sneakers and bowler hats. Hookahs and hula hoops and sneakers and sticks.


The creativity of other people is so incredible to me. I feel limited by my own creativity. Which I have to tell myself is boundless, because I do continue to persevere in the thought that deep down somewhere I am a creative person. Even if it doesn't feel like it.

But it's so wonderful when other people surprise you with the way their minds work, with the things that they are able to think up. I guess, in response to my earlier statement that it is amazing anything goes up, the creativity of a group of people is really the only reason why it does. It's a super talented group. I feel very lucky to be there.

We had a very rough shape of the play, in terms of blocking, some technical stuff, and today we began shading things in. Going back and finding moments, choosing details. It's the best work. The hardest work, in a lot of ways, especially because I feel that my characters are very indistinct. I'm not doing a good enough job in finding them. Not yet. But I am mostly off book so hopefully now the focus moves to playing. To letting that creativity GO.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'A' my name is Alice and I want to play the game of love

I am here:

Sudbury means 'I'm freezing' in several different languages. Actually the cold has not come YET, but my dread of it has.

Sudbury is a great city that sits on the Canadian Shield. Here is said shield:

As we learned in grade 10 geography, the Canadian Shield is all that protects us from Alaskan invasions and the cruel hand of Old Man Winter. He is like Old Man River, but with less soul.

Or else it's a bunch of rock.

The people in Sudbury are so cold they have literally become nothing more than shadows of themselves:

Just kidding! That happened because they were so bored. KIDDING! Everyone who is from Sudbury or living here for an extended period of time complains about how awful it is, but so far I have had a gas. Yesterday I heard a science lecture in a bar!

More specifically, I am here:

Which is even more exciting than Sudbury!

We started yesterday. It's a very beautiful stage, pretty big but feels intimate. I've never been in a production this big before...I'm not used to people building all this stuff. It's really wonderful and exciting and as much as I feel like a newb because I'm so impressed by it all, it's also nice to still be able to marvel at things. I guess I am not too disenchanted. I guess I also haven't been working in theatres for a while....

I'm intimidated and nervous, but having a good time. Trying to keep the nerves out so that I can keep trying things and not worry. Because that's not the work. I"m just trying to do the work. Right now there are so many parts that are not gelled yet: the lines, the blocking, the characterization. Especially the characterization. I am trying not to get locked into anything and keep pushing, trying to find things.

I'm still not used to being JUST an actor, and that puts a premium on doing your ONE job well. Normally I also have to be carrying the set or finding clothes that I can wear at home and striking and all that. Here I just have to act, so I better be pretty good at it. I don't know....the caterpillar is hard! Eep.

Everyone in the cast is very talented. There are so many talented people! Jeez.

Some of them can do things on jumping stilts:

They make you more machine than man.

It is pretty awesome. I, of course, have no special skills. Except for my insatiable sushi consumption and the ability to cry at long distance commercials. But no one is really interested in seeing either of those. Not when you can see jumping stilts!

I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. That I don't even know how to be in the room, or how I got into the room in the first place. I'm just trying to keep going despite all those feelings. I guess that's all you can do? Do the feelings ever end? So far, it hasn't put a damper on my excitement. IT IS SO FUN TO BE WORKING. Yesterday we did a bunch of stuff with sticks and hoops, creating Alice's movement through the tunnel and down the rabbit hole. I love that shit. I could do that all day long, just thinking of different ways to play with the sticks and create these impressions.

Ok, now I have to go learn some lines. Man, not knowing your lines sucks. I just want to know them so that I don't have to feel like an asshole!

Monday, November 15, 2010

It may come cannonballing down through the sky....

I'm here!!!!!

Great drive up!

Very overstimulated!!!!!

So much to think about. Even more to worry about.

So let's just sing a song:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And he made me feel excited- Well, excited and scared.

Really what it comes down to is this:

I don't know how to walk in the room.

There are all these tiny little anxiety-provoking things that are just normal, the mundane quotidien things but all of them add up and seem like a million ways to fail. How off book should I be for day one? How do I do anything? Where do I put my stuff? How am I always in the way? Where do I go when I get there? What kind of underwear am I supposed to be wearing?

The hard thing about acting is that all the things that make you who you are, the way you are, those things really do impact on how much you work. People have to want to have you in the room. So it is important how you are in the room. And I don't know how to do that. I guess that's true of any profession: no one wants to work with a man-eating troll. But with theatre it seems hyper important. Yipes.

But I am excited. Wanting to go. Wanting to be somewhere else and wanting something to give me some focus. Wanting to WORK. I love working! I do. I have to remember that. I'm also good at working. That's different than being good at acting, because I am not really good at acting, only sometimes. But working? I can work the pants off a horse.....if the horse was wearing pants. Where did she get them? Who is making pants for horses?

So I'm excited. I'm scared. But I'm excited.

Even though I'll never give a performance as electric as this:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Close Your Eyes And See It Glisten, Barnaby

The potential for creation is endless.

The imagination I have is infinite.

Someday, someone will want to see the things in my head.

It is worth imagining. It is worth creating.

I need to remember that.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Just Want Someone to Love Me...FOR MY MONEY.

'If you want to do art films you have to find another channel. I’ve been attempting to do that the last couple of years, but it means producing it an entirely different way and not relying on any money from the government. It’s the way I’ve been doing theatre for the past 20 years. There’s a point where you say, you’re not going to rely on public subsidies. Maybe we were wrong from the start to rely on that. The system is a monster and we were responsible for it'.

That's from Robert LePage in a Maclean's article.

It's a dream I have, to be able to work with no one allowing you to. He also says: ' I’m not going to crawl and beg and explain what I want to do in front of Telefilm Canada, which will hire a specialist from some university who will explain to me how my project is dramaturgically wrong. They have this bundle of money and they have to find an excuse not to give it to you'.

That's exactly how I feel! With all the people who aren't interested in my submissions to their festivals! Kind of inspiring, kind of demoralizing when you realize that he's at the absolute top of the artistic pile in this country, and he still feels like that.

I think about how we did dust.

First, we did it at SummerWorks, and much like my blog on our throat process, we just threw it up with the stuff we had and the costumes we could find in the time that we could scrape. I made about $150 for seven performances and rehearsals that went on for two months. When we went to Montreal, our show fit in a car, and we put it in the car and drove through the night and put it up with one tech, and did it.

It was pretty fun and is a pretty beautiful way to work, really. We're a group of friends, we care about the show, and we have an opportunity so we ran with it. No one gave us any money, no one gave us any help to do the show, so we didn't make a lot of money, and sometimes work got in the way of when we could rehearse. We didn't wait for any of those things: we just did it because we wanted to.

The recent mayoral election has artists talking about how important grant money is, and it IS, I want some, I need some, and we need to fund the arts in some way. But it can't be the only way. I want to find a way to make art pay, but we have to apply our creativity to that as well as to the work. And it's exhausting. I don't have it figured out. But I think LePage is right, that the focus has to go there rather than hitting up the government.

Because who wants to ask for permission, really?

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Only Just Out of Reach, Down a Block, On a Beach, Under a Tree....

I"m getting excited!

I'm getting nervous too, but also really excited.

I love this story so much, so its really amazing that I get to see it brought to life and be IN IT.

There's a lot to worry about. I worry about my lines, that I won't be as prepared as I should be, because I don't know how prepared I should be. I don't know if I have to be off book COLD...that's probably not possible for me, given the way I learn. I can be in pretty good shape, and I think I will be very comfortable with the script, and off book for several scenes. But I don't know if that's enough.

I dont' know if I'M enough....with only one audition, I worry that I'm not going to be what they want. I worry that I'm not a good actor anyway, so I won't be able to deliver. It's hard to know. You are what you are and sometimes that's right and sometimes it's all wrong.

I worry that the costumes won't fit, and I don't know how to juggle or play an instrument or sing well enough. I worry that I will have a terrifying living situation. I worry that I'll be late. I worry

BUT MOSTLY EXCITED! Doing research has made me excited....going through my script, and making notes, watching Alice in Wonderland scenes and movies and looking at pictures (this is tricky....some of the images I have are burned in and it's difficult to think of how to do my own interpretation....the caterpillar is the hardest. I don't even like how he's done in the Disney movie, but I can't seem to get his intonations out of my head.

But this might be my favorite interpretation. Watching it again today reminded me of how many atrocious parts of it there are. But it was a huge part of my childhood, and it's not CGI, which I love. I still have to watch the most recent version...I figure I should at least see that, despite my disdain for computer animation instead of more inventive means. But this! It's a 1985 movie with a million great people in it. And although so much is changed from the book, for some reason it's still very likeable, and it has a Wonderland tone which is so not what Carroll wrote, but which still works.

There is also a most amazing performance of 'Jam Tomorrow, Jam Yesterday' by Carol Channing as the White Queen, from the 'Looking Glass' part, BUT I WILL SAVE THAT AND POST IT SOOOOOON! Honestly, I'm going to post so many Alice clips.

So much wonderful Alice!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tell Them How I am Defying Gravity

I took a workshop today.

That's kind of like work! The word 'work' is in 'workshop'!

Anyway, it is work. Right? Yes. I tell myself that I am doing the work that I need to be doing. Or at least some of it.

It was with Theatre Gargantua.

They do stuff like this.

This is actually one of the lifts we focused on today.

Lots of jumping and moving and sweating. Good stuff. I am, right now, so sickeningly bored of the gym, but I love working really physically. I am, I'm sure, pretty terrible at it, but I still like it. It's one of the only times where that is true, normally when I am bad at something I just want to quit.

It was actually a great workshop and I"m super glad I went. It was kind of nice to be reminded that I'm an actor (am I? We'll say ok), and to just be in the room doing stuff.

The focus was on how they work, which is a kind of different way of developing work. Not really different, I've done a lot of this stuff before, and when I dream of writing my collective about loneliness in Toronto I dream of creating in this kind of way. It would be so fun to do.... I hope I can work up the bravery to do it.

There was all this lifting/being lifted stuff today, and while I will lift anything and anyone, I have great fear of being lifted. But I think I am pretty brave with that stuff. Maybe I wasn't in theatre school, but now I feel quite fearless with that shit. I just go for it and fail and who cares? I am really awful at it but I just can't be bothered really. Because when I get bothered I am even worse: I am just dreadful.

It's weird that I can summon up that bravery to be embarrassed in a room of strangers (and not only strangers, other actors, and a company I am interested in one day working with), but don't have any bravery in actually making my own show which is what I'm desperate to do.