Saturday, December 24, 2011

Then Goes Tromping Around Wearing Boots Like Gaston!

This blog post is positively bursting with masculinity! Appropriate, of course, because I am an extremely masculine person. I do use antlers in all of my decorating.

And this entry will mark the last of my 'Beauty and the Beast' titled entries, which became kind of a pain and I'm glad I won't feel the need to tie my titles to the show anymore. I always think that will make things easier, and then I get really bored. Also, 'Beauty and the Beast' the musical is not a triumph of lyricism. However, I saved my favourite line from my favourite song for this last one.

Anyway, a million years ago when I last wrote something, I talked about the most fun I had ever had in a theatre. This is what it was:

Epic Nerf battle!

The crew at STC has developed a kind of obsession with Nerf merchandise (Nerfandise?), and they all have their own guns, which, being technical wizards, they souped up and made amazing, and with which, they shoot each other.

This might all have started with Natalie, above, who is a lovely girl until she gets behind the nerf.

They are all very proficient at using these weapons, and they have some pretty amazing ones, and a wide variety of different attack tactics (attacktics?). At some point they started doing battles when the theatre was shut down, because the theatre, of course, offers lots of vantage points, hiding spots, ways to kill and ways to be killed.

Our cast, being a fun loving and murderous bunch, got in on it. AND I GAVE EVERYONE NICKNAMES.

James aka Papa Bear

Stu aka Philip Seymour Hoffman: The Revenge

John aka Lonesome Polecat

Helen aka The Finnisher

Because, as you will see, the only thing I have to offer sports are my gift of puns. I called the whole thing 'Nerf, Wind, and Fire'. Which I think is an amazing name, and trademarked by me.

We got equipped and charged up and put on safety goggles and borrowed guns and ran around all evening long.

To kill the suspense: I was of course the worst, as I am the worst at everything, particularly something that involves running AND aim AND confidence AND terror AND not panicking AND surprise attacks. My complete inability to play any sport was well proven in the absolute disastrous performance I gave.

However....I played. And I am counting that as a victory. And it was very fun. Another victory.

Actual victories? Zero.

But man, it was a good time. Amazing to think of the entire theatre as a playground was so exciting. And it took team bonding to a whole new level...a level where we shot each other.

And, because I hate losing, I got myself a Nerf gun and am going to practice, and go back, and dominate. Such is my plan.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Those Who Don't Try Never Look Foolish

Almost done. Kind of crazy.

I’ve had a series of not great shows….just messing up little things, or not being as truthful or as funny or as something as I try to be. Weird to have those deja vu moments, especially because on this contract you do the show so many times. Lately I've been doing things I've never done before. I'll sit backstage and realize I'm not wearing the gloves I'm supposed to be wearing. Or that I closed doors in an opposite order for the first time ever. I don't think any of it has happened or mattered onstage, but it's still weird. Makes me feel like I'm a bad actor, or a lazy actor, or something. It’s never enough, I guess, the way to think about things is that there’s always room to grow, there’s always more to do and find, but then when you go down that road, and you make a mistake, it’s hard to not feel terrible about yourself.


I really hate that Star Wars phrase, ‘Do or do not do. There is no try’. I think there is a hell of a lot of try. I try a lot. I do things to, but often times I try and they don’t work out. Sometimes I try too hard and because of that they don’t work out.

I feel myself trying and maybe that’s a negative for me as an actor, because the best people make it look effortless and I think for me, everything feels like, and looks like, a lot of work. For all of the mistakes I am making, for all of the things I didn't do with this character, or this show, or any other show, I still feel like I tried. Maybe it wasn't enough? Maybe there is just always more? Even with this show, I feel I could go back and mine a million more things, and this isn't even a script I love. Maybe that's the difference between 'do' and 'try' and until I stop thinking of myself as 'trying' (HA! Both senses of the word!), I won't be 'doing'. But I don't know. I don't fully believe that. I think the tries are good. You push the tries and they don't work out and some of them do but they don't work everytime so you try them different or better and somewhere in all of that is the doing. But then the doing isn't perfect and the doing isn't something you can hold on to, and maybe that's the goal.

Maybe this is a ‘give it time thing’. But I am not known for my patience.

We’ve been having such a good time in Sudbury that the last week has flown by. I’m getting sad about things being over, but I know that more things will start up. Sigh sigh sigh. Besides, it's not over yet, we have one more show, which, as Geoffrey Tennant would say, is one more chance to get it right.

I don't like goodbyes and I don't like loose endings.

Oy vey. Farewell to Sudbury, one more time.

And in my next post, I will write about THE MOST FUN I EVER HAD IN A THEATRE EVER.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Have You Seen the Way They Kiss in the Movies? Isn't it Delectable....

So have to be asleep so long ago because so have to get up so early for so many shows, BUT.


Monday, December 5, 2011

And It's All in Perfect Taste, That You Can Bet

You guys, show openings are so much fun!

I do a lot of shows (like, not a LOT, I am not successful or anything, but I have seen some shows go up in my day), and so often it's just such a panic there is no time to celebrate. Or because everyone does shows all the time, openings are just not that big a deal. I had kind of forgotten that they were a big deal, to be honest.

But for this one we were really ready and waiting for an audience, so there was time to be excited and to CELEBRATE.


Hooray for praise!

It was just wonderful to be reminded that a show is a lot of work for a lot of people, and the work doesn't end when the audience comes, but it goes into a new phase. We become a team because we work in concentrated bursts together again and again, but we also become a much bigger team, because it now includes an audience. So the atmosphere felt very festive and full of sugar, MY GOD SO MUCH SUGAR, and the opening crowd was really kind and generous like a Natalie Merchant song.

I work independently so much that there isn't a team doing things like organizing a reception for opening and making cards for the cast. Such a pleasure to work for places with their own space and traditions and people that make it go tickety boo.

Again, these costumes are designed by Charlotte Robertson, and she should design all of your costumes for you forever.

The sisters start out poor and in dull tones.

And then they get amped up by the magic of dolla dolla dolla dolla dolla billz, y'all.

We start the school shows tomorrow, and they're early morning. It's a bit bizarre to have a face full of make up and to be charging in to a show at 9:30 a.m. But, I mean, the alternative is working for a living, so..... I said the other day that the school shows were hard and someone quickly reminded me that corporate 9 to 5 is harder and he is of course right and I am a hole of ass. I'm actually really excited for the school groups to come in. There's a rigour and a fatigue that comes along with doing shows that early, and that often, but I'm looking forward to starting it. Plus, kids with no parents around are really fun.

CAST! What a good lookin' group!

And Modern Love opens in a month and I'm having a coronary episode over it, thankyousomuchforasking.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tie Your Napkin Round Your Neck, Cherie, and We Provide the Rest

Ok, let's open this sucker up.

Preview audiences are coming in and it's wonderful. I'm reminded that the play is fun, my work is fun, my character is lots and lots and lots of fun and I'm lucky. So exciting to have people in the house. I see the other half of the show, and the work becomes about something other than just worrying about yourself.

There's a lot of magic in the show, fireworks and costumes and scares and romance, which is so not usually my thing but I'm being transported back to being a kid and not knowing how these things were down and how truly magical that was. It's nice to be part of something that provides that.

Audiences here were so appreciative last year, I'm really excited for more to come see.

All these amazing costumes are designed by Charlotte Robertson at STC, who is so good at her job I can't even speak.

Let's hope opening night goes as well! Because we're not whole without a soul to wait upon!

Home Should Be Where the Heart Is

And of course, with December first, comes snowfall first.

Pretty, maybe?

But I am less than impressed.

It's both wonderful and terrible to do a show away from home. It's wonderful because the pressures of Toronto kind of disappear. It's too bad to miss plays and auditions, but it's also a bit of a relief, in a sick way. I can't care about the petty stuff that goes on there as much just because I'm not there. And you get to live in a different place, be a bit of a tourist, focus on just the play, because you don't really have a life here (this is possibly the best part), meet new people, work with old friends (because I love the crew here so impossibly much), so all of those things are fun and adventure and whee!

But I'm missing home a lot this time. I miss my friends and my bed and knowing how to do things. It's hard when the grocery store is a thirty five minute walk from my house, so I only have the food I have. I don't know where things are, so it's hard to do things. The snow makes things harder. Part of that is the nature of Sudbury, and part of it is the nature of being in a new place. A really amazing audition came up, and I had to send a tape instead of going, and I'm never as good on tape as I am in person, so I feel I lost it, and that, like, really sucks. I'm working on the thing that, obviously, I am rejected way more than I am accepted, but it still hurts every time, and sometimes it hurts a lot. Weird to miss out on work because you ARE working. Frustrating, that one.

So funny, what actors do. It's exciting, especially when it takes you to amazing new places (so many of my friends are touring fringe shows this summer, and I'm jealous that they'll get to the West Coast). But I know people who have been out of suitcases forever, and I'm not sure I'd like that for more than a short period of time. I want to do as much regional and far away stuff now, while I have the energy and the enthusiasm to see things and places, because.....there's also something to be said for working at home.

Which I get to do for the next few things, so I'm lucky. Very lucky. To be bouncing back and forth between Toronto and not Toronto, to bounce from comedy to drama, from ensemble work and supporting roles to bigger stuff. Back and forth. That's good for me. Keeps me from the streets.

I guess the goal is to find a home in all these things, in the work, no matter what the work is. Gah. What an asshole thing to say. But sometimes, because I'm an asshole, I think I've even done it. And then the work turns on me and throws me away, or I can't find a way in, and I've never been less comfortable, less at home, than I am with the work, this crazy work, this work that I don't even know what the work is, a lot of it is just stuff I do, stuff I try. Again. Find a home amongst all of this? Is this possible? I think it is, and it sounds wonderful.

Anyway. In my continuing series of having amazing hair in shows:

The Braidy bunch!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New, And a Bit Alarming


As we know, I am in the bustling metropolis of Sudbury. Sandra Shamas, one of my inspirations as a funny girl from the Land of the Timber Wolf, Home of the Beaver, has this to say of Sudbury:

'Sudbury! Where the men are men! And the women....are MEN!'

This is of course untrue, I have met some beautiful and sweet women in Sudbury. But it is very funny. Actually, when I first came up here last year, Sandra Shamas was in my ear the whole time. I just love.

ANYWAY. Because I'm in Sudbury, it means I can't have 'traditional' rehearsals for Modern Love (Jan 5 -15 at Next Stage Festival, get your tickets here, NOW, no pressure, except serious and real pressure, please come and see my show). But you all know what I say to Tradition!

I say, 'WHO MUST KNOW THE WAY TO MAKE A PROPER HOME, A QUIET HOME, A KOSHER HOME?' and then I say all the other words to that song, because I know them all and it is the best.

BUT. I digress. What do we do when we can't rehearse our Next Stage show in traditional ways? We thumb our nose at all traditions not involving Tevye, and we have Skype rehearsals!

Director Eric Double!

Skype rehearsals are great because I don't have to leave my room. I actually don't even have to leave my bed. They are not great because you frequently cut out and they aren't rehearsals, they are just chats, and check ins. But is amazing, eh? New, and a bit alarming (that's the title of the post!).

Things are moving along for Modern Love, on both the creative and the production sides. It's soon. That's scary. There's still so so so much more to do. I'm excited but it seems a bit too much at times. I'm lucky that there is a really great team working on the show. I wish I wasn't so far away from them. It's hard to feel like stuff is still moving forward when I'm not there to be doing it with everyone else. But this is how it goes.

Doing Beauty and the Beast is going very well, the sets and costumes are gorgeous because the crew at STC is the best. THE BEST. But it's making me hunger for more stuff, because it's the first thing I've done in a while, and because I have a supporting part in this one, and don't get to do any of the big production stuff, like interact with the set or sword fight, or anything like that. I'm hungry. For Shakespeare, for some reason. And just for more work. Hopefully I can channel this into the shit ton of work I have for Modern Love.

And of course, like all of our rehearsals, it ended with a prayer to Our Lord and Saviour that our play be blessed.

Hey, girl!

And, just because he is one of my biggest theatrical inspirations, today is the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury's death. So:

Monday, November 21, 2011

That Girl is Strange, No Question

So I only really have two parts in this play, but they are so different and varied that I thought I should explain them to you. Both of you.

In this version of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty has a mean sister and a dumb sister. Being both mean and dumb, it is of course difficult to guess which one I am. But I'm the dumb one! Her name is Rougi and she hasn't a clue.

Those things in my mouth are pins, not obscenities or bile. While in real life I spew both obscenities and bile at a constant rate, Rougi spews neither because she is good, and fictional. The best line about Rougi is that 'her heart is large, and she will grow into it'. I love that. She is just a little piece of pie. At the beginning, the whole family is poor, so Rougi has to sew up her sister's dresses. Hence the pins. I picture her as very rosy-cheeked, which is good, because it is what I am.

And then, after their father meets the Beast, they are rich! Rougi is still dumb but now she has A FANTASTIC HAT.

Which of course means that I am happy because we all know I am only interested in theatre for gay men and fancy hats. The hat is really terrific, too, my horrible picture does it no justice. She also has a dress, that I drew sparkly diamonds on. I'm sure there are other repercussions for Rougi and her family as a result of their new found wealth, but I have mostly been interested in the hat.

And really that's it, but then, in the Beast's castle, I also am a faceless ghoul. So that looks like this:

But underneath my mysterious cloak, I'm pretty sure I look like this:

That's blood coming out of my mouth and green stuff out of my nose. Those are horns on my head....look, I don't want to explain the whole damn drawing, ok?

So those are the parts I play. I agree, it is time for another multi-character show, the past several I've only been playing like one part, what is up with that?? Luckily Modern Love looms on the horizon and will provide enough characters to make me even more nuts for a small period of time.

And as has become the custom, with a twist: