Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How he could dip and glide and skip and slide. In his very soft shoes.

Here is what 50 pairs of women's shoes look like:

And here are mine:

They are the color of a cherub angel blushing, because I have the delicate flesh of a wee Irish lass, and my skin is the shade of a malnourished pig. But my shoes are cute. I fell over in them today. Also cute.

Today was hard, I had 11 hours of straight rehearsal, and it was a hot, tired day.

I am so so so grateful to have been so theatrically busy lately, and I hope it never ends (it will, soon), but it's also a bit overwhelming. It is GLORIOUS having acting be the day job though. Man. Can this just happen all the time? But it's fatiguing.

I'm learning so much in the rehearsal room, soaking up energy and ideas and the different ways that all of these successful actresses work. It's a crash course. There's a lot of different styles of approaching the work, and sometimes it feels totally overwhelming, but there's a real beauty to so many different people all finding a way to do something together. The ache of doing it is is paid back when, after struggling, we get it right and it feels like flying.

The thing I really have to learn not to shit where I eat. It's hard to keep the personal stuff away. We are who we are and that effects the way that we work. Hard not to let all these feelings about whether people like me and the games that I am embarrassed to admit that I play, but I do, and to keep those out of the room and not in the work. Hard to be friends with people and work together, and I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to conduct business in a way that mixes so seamlessly with my personal life. Ugh, this is not making a lot of sense, I am tired. I guess it's just hard to keep doing the work, because it is much easier to be distracted by all the stuff that isn't the work.

Oh well. Another challenge.....

Here's a promo video of us!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clear the Decks! Clear the Tracks! You've Got Nothing to Do But Relax

Of course, the trouble with having a blog about my acting career is, on the rare occasion that I have an acting career, I have no time to post anything about it.

I've been very theatrically busy. I mean that I've been busy working in theatre, not just been busy and being very theatrical about it, although that is probably the truth, too.

I have been spending my days rehearsing Tout Comme Elle, which is just a thing of beauty and a joy forever. This is the new eflier:

Lotsa chicks, no?

It's hard work, I feel quite tired by it, but it's also beautiful, sensitive, special work and I am learning a lot. It is a pretty amazing room to be in. It's full of people that I respect and that made me want to be a in Canadian theatre, and that is kind of crazy. It's almost non-acting....the director talks a lot about just being and doing, and not always having to show was tremendous actresses we are. Very simple, but very focused. It's hard. But not. You know? Man, that is such a pretentious asshole acting thing to say, but it really is the truth. There's an inclination to perform and show the depth of your talent at every moment, I have to work not to blow my wad all the time. Really, in life I'm like that too, I am so emotional and have such strong emotions that it's not a big deal for me to constantly be screaming, crying, shrieking, emoting. But this is something different. This is about core, and truth. Plus, everything you do is magnified by the fact that there are 49 other women doing the same thing. So I have to relax and let go and let it all come up roses.

Really, it's just an amazing learning experience about how to work. Brigitte (director) says we have to be like sand, we contribute to the beach, but we work on perfecting our own grain. I'm trying to not worry about others, to not tell anyone what to do or ask many questions that slow us down, or that I can find the answer to after. That's an ego thing. It's difficult to not think that what you are doing is the most important thing, but in this case (and probaby all the others) it really is the truth.

The best part about it being a learning experience is that everyone is learning. There are real pros here, and they are figuring it out too. Marjorie Chan, this writer/actress that I am a huge fan of, was talking to me about her experience the other day, and she said that having experience gives you confidence when you go into a room, but every project is different and you are always working on figuring out how to do the work. That never goes away. It's humbling and comforting at the same time.

So anyway, it has been amazing and I am grateful. And the cast is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

And then, in the middle of that, last Saturday night this happened:

That's my show Modern Love at Canadian Stage. Photo by Claire Calnan.

I did it and it went well. I was happy. I miss doing it. I am excited to do it again one of these days, maybe. The issue now becomes a) holding on to all the good work and good feedback we got, and b) thinking about what happens next. We have done an application. We will continue to think about other places that we can do it. I don't know. Where does the work go? Do you just do it and let it evaporate?

I also wrote that Sonnet Show play and did some stuff for other shows that I'm working on. I have felt a bit split, a bit busy, but really it is all just great. I'm grateful to be this tired, because it's good tired....the kind of tired that comes from being really invigorated and working on things you care about. As opposed to the fatigue I would feel when I worked at the ROM for two days and just wanted to cry. I'm trying to not let myself get worried about it ending, because there will always be more to look forward to, and all that, but it's so frustrating that in anything beautiful are the seeds that it has to end. DON'T THINK LIKE THAT!

Things are good, yes? Yes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

High School Ladies at 5 o'clock

I had my first rehearsal for Tout Comme Elle today, which is commonly known as the 50 women show, because it has 50 women in it. And I'm one of them.

It is a pretty amazing group and I'm gobsmacked by the whole thing. It's pretty much all the actresses in this city who you would most die to work with. All together. I'm so lucky. It's hard work and there's lot of challenges but it is a real gift of a show to get to be in.

This is what we look like:

Or this is what we would look like if we were all blue and dots and seen as if from an aeroplane. Please note my old timey spelling of 'aeroplane', or 'flying autobus', as my compatriots down at the Legion also call them. I couldn't take a picture.

And then I rehearsed my one woman show for the last time with Eric and Julia, which made me sad, but they said it wasn't the end, and they also said that I need an audience, so one had better materialize on Saturday night.

Eeek I have a very theatre-y actor-y life right now, it is so great.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That's Where I Sweat to Earn My Pay

I have to blog this for posterity, in case it never happens again.

Today, I worked at these three theatres:

Ohh, SNAP.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Can't Really Explain It, I Haven't Got the Words

Oh, and sometimes there are just days and nights when things go right, and it isn't because the work is perfect, because it isn't, and it isn't because the work is new or shocking or something familiar or something novel, because it's all of those things a little bit but really none of them, but what it is is that a group of people were in a room and something happened because they were there. And there is a feeling of fun and sharing and going further than you should because you CAN all of a sudden, and everyone is hoping but not dreading and things are easy and silly and because of that they are also daring and dangerous.

It's very beautiful to be in a room when the actors crack each other up, and the play stops for a split second and the PLAY takes over.

And these are just seconds that take us away from a loneliness that will gobble you up if you give it a chance, but the seconds are such gems of hope that they allow us to keep going, because when you are in a room like that there is love for you, and you are a part of it, whether you are actor or audience. And they're so rare but like berries that pop in your mouth you must keep searching for more.

Oh man, my relationship with theatre is serious. It's making me doubt my relationship with fictional character Jim Halpert, it's so serious.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In my Copy of a Copy of a Copy of Dior

It's causing me small amounts of distress that I don't blog seriously enough, or wittily enough, and no one reads it anyway, and it is just another project that I pour my heart into for nothing. So to combat that I have decided to not be precious and just write a little bit. Not a lot. But just something.

Someone I love very much was telling me how I have to let go of how important it is for me to be liked by others, and I understand that it's true but I also think it's like telling the tulips not to droop. You can do it, but they're going to droop anyway, so why not just enjoy the smell?

Not that I smell good. Actually, I do, I am a fairly good smelling person, I believe.

Because I am a pathetic girl who really, when I am being honest with myself, just wants to sing and dance in fabulous outfits, I often turn to musical theatre when I am feeling anything. (SIDE NOTE: I used to think I wanted to make 'important' theatre. And that I wanted to see 'important' theatre. When I was younger, this meant that if it made me laugh, or if it was frivolous and fun and footloose and fancy free, it could be enjoyed, but like champagne: sparingly and with a stiff upper lip. The sobriety of my youth now amuses me, even though I still loved musicals I wanted to be in Shakespeare and Chekhov and to write plays where people killed themselves and said things like, 'I have loved you.....always'. I still want to be in those things, and I still do write like that, but really, I want to do the things that I want to do in plays. That's why it was very important to me that the show I'm doing now end with a David Bowie song. The next thing I want to do is dress in a gold lame body suit and do an AMAZING interpretive dance to Meat Loaf's 'I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)'. Wouldn't you like to see that? I want to see shows that are people doing what they really want to do. I still want to be in Shakespeare and Ibsen, but more Meat Loaf bodysuit dancing, please. Copyright Jessica Moss, if you take that idea I will be so upset). And because I'm looking at a terrifying week full of things that I'm happy about but scared by, and worried about lots of things, and also just because it is the best and I listen to it often, I'm posting this:

I didn't discover Sweet Charity until recently, for some reason. I missed it in my musical adolescence. But it has become one of my favorites. I want to play her. I feel so much like her, and Shirley Maclaine is gorgeous, and there's so much hope in spite of the despair. It captures joy in the face of sadness so so so well, and it isn't cloying at all, or cutesy. It's quite gritty and honest, but still manages to smack of gumsmacking lipsmacking candy coated sass and glee.

I love it. I'm holding on to it. In the face of fear.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Life is Random and Unfair, Life is Pandemonium


Not really. Today has been a proliferation (I am using that word incorrectly, I'm sure) of first world-type problems. Not even, it has been problems of TOO MUCH GOOD FORTUNE.

Which sounds stupid, shut up Jessica stupid-face, but is also really frustrating.

Everyone always says that this is how acting goes, feast to famine, and then there is a surplus of work and you can't take it all. This has happened to me before, I had to turn down the first paying job I was ever offered because I had committed to doing a Shakespeare show for no money, and conflicts are always there, blah blah blah. But today I had my two highest profile things clash. And I really want to do them both, and I can't.

I just worry because I'm not good at handling the business side of stuff at all, I'm not good at organizing and making people happy. I always cause trouble and it's usually because I'm trying so hard to be good and to not make waves that I make TSUNAMIS.

Over-exaggeration. Hubris. FACT!

I just don't want to cause trouble, but I am, and I don't know how to fix it. I'm terrible at figuring out how to be at two places at once, and knowing what thing is more important than what other thing. It makes me very stressed out and I always come back to this idea that I'm going to be fired and thrown onto some kind of burning pyre. I am so lucky to have a conflict, to have more than one company be interested in my terrible work, but I just wish it would work out. I also wish I had an agent because then I wouldn't have to make phone calls and tell people my schedule, which are two of the things that I hate the most.

And because I am also crazy, I just signed on to write a play in two weeks, set in this room:

Why? I don't know. Because I really want to. But I now have to write a play, rehearse and tech my one woman show, rehearse a fringe show, start rehearsals for a contract, and turn down a workshop that I would KILL to do, because of conflicts.

The play is for this, which is great, and I'm really glad I can be involved in some way, because I can't act this year. However, the project hit me today. Shit. A 14 minute play? Oh crap. Here's me realizing what I have to do:

Here's how I'm going to deal with it:

I don't know!

I guess I'll write something, and I think it is good, because I want so badly to start being a writer, and sadly, the only way to do that is to write. Much like the only way to be a 'doctor' is to go to 'med school', or the only way to be a 'pirate' is to 'sail the seven seas'. Not really though, through my ridiculous job I have found that you can just IMPERSONATE these people onstage by wearing vague facsimiles of their clothing items, and speaking dialogue that someone else thinks up for you in broad accents with sweeping hand gesture. That's how I have had the chance to be a servant, a pirate, a caterpillar, a Queen, a lesbian, an alcoholic, a prostitute, a nun, a soldier, and a wolf.

But for writing I have to do it, because when I do it, then the writing exists, and I can JUDGE it, and one day when I have confidence and friends to read it, other people can JUDGE it, and from that JUDGEMENT it will become better and one day be a play that other people will perform and I will feel like I accomplished something and can go back to just watching funny videos all day long.

Argh. It's scary and overwhelming, and I'm grateful for it, but I'm also scared and overwhelmed.

Last night my friend Morgan and I were talking like non-English speaking actors:
I do pretend job in clothes not mine?
Me act hard now, you pay pitiful sum, yes?
I speak words in funny voice, others stare from chairs?
Speak the words, I pray you, trippingly on the tongue?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We Could Pool Our Resources by Joining Forces

Eep, the CanStage thing is so soon. I'm kind of freaking out.

We are working so hard on this! It's only one shot...and it's a development festival, the majority of the work being presented is readings, and no critics or anything will come. But we are all working our butts off for this. I guess because we're being presented as kind of 'foster children' of a CanStage program, we're the young guns and we want to make the most amazing impression because it seems like a real real shot to do something cool. It is a cool opportunity. Plus, it's fun to work hard, right?.....Right?

Also exhausting. But good, but good.

It has been humbling that other people are working so hard on this. I'm shocked and really touched that people can care so much about something that doesn't come from them, or doesn't put them in the spotlight. Obviously it's a team effort, and I feel the creation has been very collaborative, but it was my idea, and the writing was mine, and I'm the only one onstage. Three other people are giving a lot to help this come to fruition. I'm impressed (and relieved) that they feel invested and that it's their project too, because it is....it's become a whole different thing because they are involved. Maybe I am just selfish, or maybe I haven't been lucky enough to see this kind of generosity. I'm very lucky in this one. Wow.

We've had lots of meetings and rehearsals, a photo shoot, a tech master working at home, emails going back and forth, and today we had a goddamn FILM SHOOT!

Like, this production is out of control!

It makes me worried that maybe I'm getting soft, that I'm used to doing shows where I just show up and act ('act'?). This is one of those scenes where we do everything....I'm carrying costumes around, rehearsing at coffee shops....I love it.

We shot here at the lovely Sunnyside bathing pavilion. When I am an insane 1950s debutante aging with no grace, and preserving everything exactly as it was from the day my third husband left me, I'm going to do it all there.

I plan to wear a lot of nylons on top of bathing suits, and to talk a lot about gentleman callers.

While it looks kind of like a weird asylum or a place where we should do Greek theatre, it was pretty great and we did a really amazing, but pretty easy shoot. I'M SO EXCITED FOR IT!

Our tech is done by Kyle. He's a genius. He's doing all of these projections, and photos, and all this stuff for this show.

I'm like a dopey girl who dreams of meeting someone, and has dreams about meeting a dream man, but in reality there is no one there for her. Sad. It's a silent movie style though. Which I love because NO LINES TO LEARN. And melodramatic acting. My specialty.

Julia as notetaker extraordinaire. Also grip and lighting goddess and general good person to have around.

And Eric did a million production jobs and then played a janitor.

Like, this is an amazing thing about theatre, how we all work together like this. It just makes me melt. It takes so much. This is a one woman show, and there's four of us working like crazy. For nothing. For each other.

Except for me. I, of course, just took pictures of myself all day long.

What else is new?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm as Trite and as Gay as a Daisy in May

IT'S MAY!!!!

I have been looking forward to May because the past few months have been womp wommmmp.....

May means two things!

1) My show with Theatre Caravel presented at Canadian Stage's Festival of Ideas and Creation.

2) Tout Comme Elle rehearsals start!

These things mean other things:

1) Wah I have to learn all these lines.

2) Yay between these things and this Fringe show I am helping with I have rehearsal practically every day for a month.

3) Holy God rehearsal every day for a month.

4) Damn I wonder what I remember of Tout Comme Elle. I also wonder if I can do all the squatting that show demands.

Some of those rehearsals happen here:

It is very fun to say 'I am returning from a rehearsal at Canadian Stage'. Or, alternatively, 'I will now go to my rehearsal at Canadian Stage'. Or, if you must, 'Drat, I guess today I won't be at Canadian Stage rehearsing. However, I will, in future, be rehearsing at Canadian Stage'. Versatile.

It's so nice to have space. It's such a luxury. Up til now we rehearsed this in a living room. My fringe show has rehearsals in apartments. The first fringe show I ever did was rehearsed entirely in a bed room, with the director directing from his bed. To have space to move in, to be in the space where you will perform, it's huge. It's kind of amazing that I take it for granted now....I went through years of never thinking I'd rehearse in a designated rehearsal space.

This show is exhausting. I have written myself a show that takes the wind out of myself.

Tired and blurry, what is up with my camera?
Anyway, the show almost seems impossible to do when I think about it, but then I actually just do it and it is not so bad. It's like, every day I go to rehearsal and I go, 'I don't know how to do this, I don't know my lines, this is so hard', and we just do it and it isn't so bad. Today I was even saying how I thought some scenes would be monsters and they aren't at all.

You just have to do it.

It's like the 'shit or get off the pot' stage. It sucks to have to actually work, complaining and being worried is easier than actually getting off of my ass and making things happen. But complaining and being worried aren't the work, so they don't get you farther, whereas the work does. Even if its bad slow awful work, it does. Why is this hard to remember? Maybe I should get it tattooed on my neck....

In other news, I combined my loves of baking and theatre to put an octopus on a cake for my friends at Theatre Caravel.

Don't judge my cake skills on this. Octopi are hard to draw.