Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stop Studying Strife and Learn to Live the Unexamined Life

I'm rehearsing one show that is in the crazy stage of fine tuning and trying to make it a cohesive hour and clean everything up. The notes are pretty small and it is all about the details. And I'm rehearsing another show that needs huge broad strokes, that isn't even fully written yet and needs to be brought to life entirely.

Both pretty fun, really.

I have been worried about both of them on and off. I worry that no one in the show likes me. I worry that I'm the weak link in the cast. I worry that I talk to much, or don't contribute enough, or am not pretty enough to be in the show, or am generally just this horrible person they are all stuck with, onstage and off. I worry about my career endlessly. I know it's annoying. It drives everyone crazy. And it drives me crazy when other people, who I think are doing better than me, worry about their careers. But it is just a part of me. I worry about the work because I care. I worry about things because I want to have a career and I want to take the steps that will lead to me having the career I want. But more than anything I just really want to take pride in what I put out there and believe in the work I do. And I do with these projects.

As much as I want the audience to like what I do (I wanted Tout Comme Elle to be a smash of such gargantuan proportions that it would become something that changed my entire life. Like, nothing was the same ever because of doing that show. That didn't happen. It was wonderful and perfect, but it didn't happen), I care more about how I feel about my own work. I want Swoon! to be a huge hit at fringe, and for us to make money and to be a part of something that buzzes and makes people excited, to feel like I am connected to something that is bigger than me but needs me. And that excitement comes with an audience, an eager audience that wants to see our show. And I want to create an environment, or an experience for them that is magical, and generous, and all of that. It's true. I thought about that so much when doing Modern Love.

But ultimately, it can't mean to them what it means to me, and they are going to bring their own personalities to the work and they're going to judge it. Because that's easy to do. I do the same when I go see a show. I do the same when I read the Fringe guide and look at shows, and think that some look so dreadful. It's easy. It's really easy to receive the art and slap some opinion on it and not care. I do it all the time. That's sobering. I love theatre and want there to be good theatre in the city I live in, I want the right people to make it and the arts to be so supported by audience dollars that we don't need corporate sponsorship or government funding, and I still come into almost everything with the attitude of 'This probably isn't good enough'.

I'm a bad person, that way.

You don't have to think, to watch plays like that. It's so easy. Because they're never perfect. There's always so much more you can do. And I always push, to the endless dismay of anyone who has the misfortune to work with me, because I don't want to think we wasted any opportunity. It's like being tied to the track with the train coming. I want to do everything we possibly can before we get run over.

So I'm trying to be more open as an audience member and more fearless as a cast member. In rehearsals, it's coming up as to what's confusing and what the audience is going to think, and I care, and I don't. I care way more about how I feel about what we've created.
And right now I think it's pretty interesting and different and has moments of real beauty.

Photo credits: Alex Felipe

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Little Known Facts

"No great thing is created suddenly . There must be time. Give your best and always be kind." - Epicetus
Trying to think about this in many ways. Especially the 'kind' part. Sigh.

Friday, June 24, 2011

We Had a Good Thing Going, Going....Gone

So another one bites the dust, and I am very depressed and don't know how to deal with it. Such is life.

I don't know why it continues to shock me how sad I am when a show comes to a close, but I always feel unprepared for the booooo feeling that follows. I don't quite know what to do with myself, and I'm not good at feeling good about myself without a show. I've been watching a lot of cartoons in bed, I'm not going to lie. I also have developed a habit of getting sick immediately after shows, which worries me, as I've long advertised myself as someone with the hearty constitution of an ox, or similarly sturdy critter, who I resemble not only physically, but also in stubbornness and a lack of manual dexterity.

(No, that's not me, but I'm flattered you think it is!)

So I'm sick and sad. And I don't think there's any remedy for it other than time and maybe getting into another project that I feel excited about, and there are two that I am waiting to hear from, and one that I won't know for a bit, but I should maybe give up on the other one. But at some point, some project will come into my life and then it will break my heart too!


Here's some of the Tout Comme Elle reviews. They were, on the whole pretty good to great:

And here's one that mentions me, which is, of course, the worst review. Not very well written, and I don't think the reviewer understood the show. So of course, she thought I was pretty good! My popularity amongst the confused (as well as the criminally insane) remains a pillar upon which to base my self esteem:

While I idly look for a job and other reasons to live, I'm doing this:

Hm, it kind of looks like some bizarre form of art therapy, in which there's lots of crafts and hugging. While that is something I should likely look into to curb my many issues of instability and night terrors (I really shouldn't joke about night terrors, but I think they're hilarious, ever since an episode of The Simpsons where Homer keeps falling asleep and then yelling, 'Aaah! Cobras!'. And it's a bad episode, Season 13 or so, where the plots make no sense and the animation is on the computer so it doesn't have any heart, but man, that Cobras thing is so funny it redeems the whole shebang, and make night terrors forever hilarious. But I apologize to the one person who reads this, in case you suffer from night terrors and my insensitivity causes you to suffer more. I'm sorry.) (I'm not sorry.), this is actually a play.

And if you believe the punctuation in that last paragraph, you will believe anything!

I'm doing the Toronto Fringe again, and this play is called Swoon!

These photos are all by the director/creator of the piece, Jason Maghanoy. As you can see, I am continuing my tradition of only being cast in shows where everyone else is a model. Another pillar upon which to base my self esteem.

We've been rehearsing this for a bit, but it's going to pick up steam now. We did the first stumble through last night, and so now it becomes about shaping the material we have, putting together a show instead of a collection of stuff, rather than generating the material and exploring like we've been doing up til now. More rehearsals, the pressure feels like it's there, but it's always kind of amazing, at this crisis point of a production, how much can be done and how much things can change and that anything really is possible if we care about what we're doing and we want to make something we can be proud of. I like this part of the process. I like doing the whole show. And finding out what kind of animal it is.

Maybe an ox!

Named Ferdinand. (Ok, Ferdinand was a bull, but I just looked it up, and they're the same animal, except an ox has been castrated, and a bull has not. So Ferdinand had a few reasons to smile and be the sweetest bull that ever was. Two reasons, in fact. LEARNING!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

So Here's to the Girls on the Go - Everybody Tries

It's kind of amazing how exhausted I am from doing this show. I think back to last summer when I worked a job at the same time as touring Shrew, and I don't know how I did it. This show is more intense performance wise, sure, maybe more so than anything I've ever done. I don't know if I've ever been onstage for an entire show that was more than an hour. And it's a high intensity show, both physically and emotionally. The movement is not so hard as the sustained poses, the lengthy stretches where we all slowly do something. But I'm wiped by it. I don't know how I managed last year to tour something and work a day job and rehearse something else at the same time. I've been doing occasional rehearsals for Fringe, and really letting that slip, to be honest. But I've just been very tired.

Photo credits: Michael Cooper

The show has a momentum that picks me up even if I'm not ready for it. Today at the beginning I kept finding myself not in the right place, and that threw me off, but I ended up feeling like I had a really good show. It has a life force. Even if I don't feel like I have much of one.

I'm getting kind of sick, and I've been regularly getting sick every few months. This worries me. I never used to be sickly and I pride myself on my heartiness. But I'm not really feeling so great right now, fatigue is a part of it. It's disconcerting to me. I don't want to be constantly weakened by doing shows!

I'm going to miss it. I'm getting glum already, wah.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sun's Gettin' Shinery to Spotlight the Finery

Pre opening:

Post opening:

(Addendum: recently, someone on Facebook detagged himself in a photo I tagged of him, and it made me quite angry that people are so sensitive about the image they create for themselves online. Like, what, a bad picture of you has never been taken? It wasn't even bad! Own it! So I continue my series of atrocious pictures of me. For public benefit.)

Man, this show is taking it out of me. I am exhausted. I am finding it so hard to focus on anything else. I don't know why. The show is very low pressure, in terms of prep. I have to be really awake and focused while I'm in it, but it's not like I have to run lines all the time, or do fight prep or anything. I don't know. I'm tired though.

But loving it.

This really is such a special piece. The response back has been mixed, and there have been a lot of people who haven't said anything to me, or who clearly weren't too in to it. And I kind of get that. But at the same time, it's something so different, so huge, all the silences and stillness, all the people, and we don't get to see that so much, so I wish that there was a similar sense of that innovation from our audience. Perhaps it will come. Perhaps I'm talking to the wrong people. Not these people. These are the right people:

I know I have to give up what the audience thinks, because if I love a piece, it isn't possible for the audience to love it as much as I do, not being involved in it. I'll never get the kind of satisfaction I need from them. Applause can always be louder and reviews can always be better. I know that doing this show gives me a supreme amount of satisfaction, and that holding on to the idea that I was in this is like a little jewel. So I'm trying to own those things and let others go. It's not easy.

Opening night means gifts.

Opening night means parties.

I'm feeling very insecure right now and I'm not sure why. I am a part of this beautiful show and have something big in future, and two little things which will keep me acting-active for the next two months. But I'm still feeling competitive, like everyone is doing so much better than me and that I'm not a real actor, that this will end and I'll never get to this height ever again. Not entirely sure what it's about. But it sucks. And I want it to end. I guess it's like that audience thing, but there's always so much more to want and to do and to not get, so how can you stop feeling blah about things? I don't know how to look at the success of others without seeing my failure. That's a horrible thing to admit, but it's true.

Not very in the spirit of Tout Comme Elle. Breathe, breathe, wait, breathe, squat, walk, breathe. Ah, that's better.

This was drawn by the beautiful Anne Anglin, one of the 50, the one who ends the show with a great big bang, and given to our cast. Appropriate.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Here comes the audience now

We've had a wealth of runs with this show. We learned the blocking very fast, so that since the second week we have been just doing fixes and runs every day. It's a blessing because a show as a whole is a different animal, and this one in particular needs to flow, needs to wash over us and so the runs are necessary, as everything connects.

I have had good runs and bad runs. It's a pretty amazing show in that even doing it tired, or doing it when you don't really want to, you can have moments of clarity. It picks you up and takes you regardless of where you are when you start. Having said that, there's a very specific feeling that feels like flying, feels like 50 people are onstage and connected and moving as one, and that's only possible if I am ready and open and not tired. There are parts that always get me and are touchstones in that I'm able to drop in. There are parts that are harder.

I worry about my monologue, but I try not to think of it as my moment, that I am speaking through the whole show and that when I actually speak it is for everyone, so it is just another part of a bigger picture. I'm still worried. But, you know. Working on it. Because I really do believe that is the case.

It's such a special show in that way.

Plus, we all look hot in it. The costumes are by Yso and Erika Connor and they're effing sick.

Last night was our invited dress, and it was pretty interesting to have an audience. The run before it was a very hard one for me, probably my worst run in a lot of ways. I found myself fidgeting, struggling to hit positions. I was tired.

I was not tired for the dress, but it became a very different show. The incubation process of this one has been interesting. In one way, it's hard to say that we've been in isolation, because there are 50 of us, so how secluded can the process be? At the same time, it's an intimate show, and we've shared that together, so now that there are all these other people, it is changing a lot. There were definite rough patches, which I guess is to be expected. And lots of surprises. Two of the monologues (one being mine) got laughs that I was totally not thinking would come. Weird things happened. A part of someone's shoe fell off so I picked it up during a part that we do when we roll on the floor, and shoved it in my bra. I ended up in (physical) places I had never been before.

But it's all good. It was a dress and the audience was great and now we have broken that seal, and the audiences can continue to come and we can grow.

Already the seeds of sadness that it's going to end are starting to sprout. With such a big cast, there are people I haven't had a full on conversation with, and that is sad, especially because everyone is so talented and there are people that I have looked up to for years and years here, acting beside me. But it isn't done yet and I'm trying to enjoy it even though I know it will end and be gone, and that's heartbreaking, really.

But it's less heartbreaking than it is beautiful that I got to do something like this, once. Right?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Girls in White Dresses with Cream Colored Sashes

As has been lamented on several occasions, on this blog, when I'm in a show, it's hard for me to find time to write on a regular basis about the show. Whether this is due to my astonishing lack of organizational skills, or is merely another facet in my veritable diamond of flaws, it means that I don't get to talk too much about the shows I'm doing, in a blog that is designed for that exact purpose.

Such is life.

I will, however, find time to post pictures of parties and people wearing fabulous dresses. One thing that can be said of me is my priorities are in order.

Tout Comme Elle is an incredibly special experience and I am continually knocked out that I'm in it. We moved into the theatre (the freaking Bluma Appel!) this week, and even though the scope of this project is so huge, there has been such an effort made to make everyone feel safe and appreciated, that it has been relatively smooth, from my point of view. Maybe this is because I'm kept in an actor bubble. But I think we are all working to be happy and kind with each other.

There are, of course, moments, mostly when we get notes and there is a lot of talking, or when we're trying to do something complicated and there are lots of questions, and lots of people talk at the same time, when it very much feels like there are 50 women involved, and that none of us are the same. But these, in the grand scheme of things, are rare. For the most part, especially onstage, I feel the power of being one in a huge group, I feel the weight and the breath around me, but it doesn't seem unusual, or overwhelming. It feels powerful.

Also, I'm getting used to doing things in a massive group of chicks, so it's just old hat now.

One of the benefits of being in this show is getting treated like a special star because we're a part of the Luminato Festival, so all of these pictures are from the opening night party of Luminato.

Oh, hello Mr. Waiter/Actor. You'd like to offer me another free glass of wine? Well, if you insist. Also, one of your compatriots had some sort of pork product, could that possibly come back here so I can shove it down my throat? You are too kind.

I'm so uncomfortable at those parties, but it was so nice to be in a group, and it is very fun to spend an evening feeling entitled to company and vitriols. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ARE OUT OF FREE GIFT BAGS? OUTRAGE! Kind of fun. Can't get used to it. Back to the salt mines.

I want so many more pictures of this show. The costumes are absolutely incredible, so sexy and soft and feminine, and everyone looks amazing. I mean, look how hot these girls are.


This is a fraction of the cast, and our costumes are even hotter than the dresses we wear to impress rich arts donors.

Girls, girls, girls.

I'm having a wonderful time. Someone else who is in the cast said to me that even the parts she is finding difficult, even the people who are driving her crazy, she's enjoying it. She's kind of getting a kick out of the hard parts and people, and that's an oddly satisfying feeling. Perfection is boring, and, plus, it's not even that perfect, when you're there. So if you can find a way to appreciate the little irks and make them like little grains of salt and pepper that keep things exciting, then I think you just have a ball. And I'm finding that. I get frustrated when I can't hear things, or when there are too many voices, I just shut down and then I feel stupid. But there's also something in me that rallies at those moments and wants to surge forward and attack, and that's such a valuable place to be in when I'm rehearsing, I find. It feels ready and dynamic.