Friday, July 29, 2011

But Be a Comical One.

It's hot, but not as hot as it has been.

Boring sentence, no? Boring observation. I don't have enough to do right now.

Tum te tum.

Actually, I have a million things that I could do and should do, not even getting to the strata of things that I REALLY could and should do, like build orphanages and save the whales, but I have a ton of things that would probably make my life better and me better if I did them. Things like learning to drive and cleaning my house and searching for the holy grail of joe jobs that lets me leave for a month to go do shows and pays me handsomely and lets me work erratic and ridiculous hours to accommodate my insatiable desire for the stage.

I could do all those things......


I could post leftover photos from Swoon!


I could do nothinggggggg allllll the time........There's so much nothing to do! So many episodes of Mad Men to watch on my many theatre websites to look at and dream many revenge fantasies to watch in my many things to worry about and hope for. It's hot and summery and I am confused. Enough reason to not do the things I should. But then I feel bad. VICIOUS CYCLE.

There's a lot to do for the next thing I'm working on, which is this:

It is called Long Dark Night and is a film noir musical. For all of you who ever doubted that I would ever be in either a film noir or a musical, I am now in both! (It is terrifying!)

I have to learn my lines and the show has to really, come together. We have a week. Which is both a lot of time and not enough time. I don't know. It will be what it will be and it is a lot of fun and really different from Swoon! and that's sad because I miss Swoon! but also great because its great to do different things.

It's a really old fashioned, Mel Brooks-y, balls out comedy, which is so fun for me and something that I haven't really done in a while...maybe ever? I feel I've done this kind of thing before, but maybe only in improv and sketch and skits, I don't think I've done a show in this style, and if I have, it was years ago. It's so much fun! I try to think about Carol Burnett and Madeleine Kahn and Gilda Radner and Lucille Ball and all those women that I wanted to be growing up. And then do impressions of them.

Awesome pictures, yes? They are taken by Tanja Tiziana, who is really amazing and has lots of good pictures on her website, which is infinitely more interesting than mine.

But comedy is hard and I don't know how funny I am and how funny anything is at any given time. There's a lot of the 'stock' funny stuff in this show, like silly accents and voices and double takes and that kind of thing, and I guess that stuff is funny, but sometimes it isn't, you know? I went and saw my friends at Humber River Shakespeare do The Comedy of Errors over the weekend, and they said the same thing. That it's a broad style show, and they spend time going, 'hmm, is that funny?' and sometimes the audience reaction is not as vocal, and that's scary. This is kind of the same thing. I don't know whether I'm funny. Sometimes I feel myself really trying to be funny, and usually when I am like that, I am anything but. And I am really annoying and everyone reaches for the mute button.

But when comedy works its the best thing in the world, and its really fun to do.

Hee hee, I am a ditzy and silly but on the ball girl friday. I love the term 'Girl Friday' more than almost anything in the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

When Your Luck is Batting Zero, Get Yer Chin Up Off the Floor

Because I am, of course, a miserable and lonely human being, I am very sad that my show, Swoon! is over.

Because I am trying to be less of a miserable and lonely human being, a short list of productive ways to deal with my negative feelings:

1) Build small scale versions of cities and stomp on them like some giant troll or lizard.
2) Build large scale versions of cities and run them like Mayor Quimby.
3) Watch Game of Thrones (NOTE: I don't do this, because I usually don't watch any TV that other humans watch. Should I get into it? I don't think I can handle this show. How can there be a game of thrones? Is it like musical chairs? I'm the WORST at that! I am so slow and never listen! Anyway, it doesn't sound any fun. If you have enough thrones that you can make a game of it, you probably just have too many thrones.)

And that's really all I've come up with. I've come to the sad and startling conclusion that when I'm in shows, my life is silly and full of random adventures, often trying to procure props and costumes for the shows, and also just because there are people in my life, so that leads to adventures. Not adventures that are all that exciting, or anything, really, but just things. I think most people call those 'things' or 'life', but to me, they are adventures. Gee, that's pretty sad, eh? Like sitting in a park really late after rehearsal. Or going to see a play in an underground parking lot at 3 a.m. after dragging my friend on a coffee search because I promised the SM I would bring her something, and then of course we couldn't find any, so I just brought a whole bunch of soda pop, but not until I had embarrassed myself at several establishments and walked all over the Annex in a freaking leg brace.

Oh yeah, all the adventures of the past week have involved a leg brace.

But that's the stuff that life is made of!

And I only really do that stuff when I'm in a show, because the rest of the time, I am lured into a semi-comatose state by the twin sirens of TV and my bed. Thank god for my friends, the cast of Community and fictional character Veronica Mars.

Luckily, I am always in a show. I have stuff coming up, and that's lucky. There will be other shows. I always feel like there won't, but there will.

But I miss Swoon! A lot. It was a really strange process, I was certain for a long time that it would fail (I'm not proud of that, but it is true), and then it didn't. At all. It was great. We got some recognition. Finally! Some recognition! I miss the people in it and their pretty faces.

Of course, when one show ends, a wave of rejection sweeps over me, with an agent who doesn't want to take my money (why not?!! that's what I steal it for!), or help me make more money (why not?!! I'm so bad at stealing!), and I think of all the projects I'm not in, and look at all the people who are doing better than me, and run right into the arms of Troy and Abed in the morning. And things always conflict, I commit to one project and then something else rears its head, and I don't know what to do. I can't manage myself (I'M OUT OF CONTROL!), and I'm terrible at business and networking and everything pretty much. I also hate doing it. So I look for the path that leads to fewer people hating me, and that's rarely the best career move. I think most business moguls take the exact opposite path. And look where it got them (Rupert Murdoch)!

So I feel stagnant, again, and confused, again, and without purpose, again.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Please Spell 'Hospital'. H-O-S-P.....

Acting Emergency! Call Lawrence Olivier!

No, not really. But I fell down and went BOOM. And then went to the hospital.

And then got these amazing bruises:


And have been doing the show for the last two performances in a walking cast. It really helps me feel more self-conscious and less like a human being who anyone would ever date or put in their play, thanks for asking!

Yipes. I fell coming out of a play set in a church. I KNEW THE THEATRE AND ORGANIZED RELIGION WOULD BE THE ONES TO BRING ME DOWN. Ugh.

It's more embarrassing than anything else. Feeling incapable is rotten. I feel incapable because it happened in the first place. I fell in front of people I know and theatre people I want to impress, and that's kind of the worst. This kind of thing always happens to me and feeds the image I ahve of myself as this hapless and hopeless child/muppet creature. And then I have spent three days asking people to carry things for me and walk slowly because of me and we all know that my combination egomania/crippling self doubt generally make demanding anything of anyone impossible.

The amazing things have been two fold. a) The show survives. More than survives. It's a cute addition to my character when it is visible or mentioned, and then it's not really important when it isn't. I hurt doing the show....there's a part where we sway and it's not fun anymore, when before it was my favorite piece of the play, and it's just because it's hard to sway on one leg. But it's a physical piece, and I'm not as good as I normally am at being physical, and it doesn't matter. It definitely isn't ruining anything. Thank Allah.

Biggest house yet the first night I had to do it in the cast. That's the line up of people waiting to get in. We are close to selling out, and I desperately want it to happen. So it continues to go well and I continue to be proud of it.

b) The cast (the human one, not the one that makes me MORE MACHINE THAN MAN), has been incredibly supportive

It's such a nice bunch. Everyone has been really helpful and kind. Having done two big ensemble shows back to back, and developing such a bond both times with people has made me want to work this way over and over again. It's kind of the worst, because you just fall in love with everyone and then the show is done and they go back to their lives and you don't know if they ever really cared the way you did, because maybe it was just another thing for them, and while you still share something between you when you run into each other on the TTC or in a line up for another play, it's weird to not still be living in the same place together. But it's so exciting to be in big groups of people, to fill stages with people that it's almost worth how sad you get when you're alone in the end.


I've been humbled by everyone's support. I don't know how supportive I am as a scene partner or cast member. I used to think I was, but I was not great during the beginning part of this process. I resisted and rejected the show. I was really hard to work with. And I still have problems because I'm bossy and have ideas that I think are the best because they come from my brain, and cry all the time and am essentially impossible. I have so much to work on.

Now, I know you will be wondering, 'Jessica, has this injury got in the way of your 'party all the time' lifestyle?'



Monday, July 11, 2011

Without Love, Life is Like a Beat that You Can't Follow

Fringe madness.
Like. For real.

I forgot how wonderful but also how very draining Fringe is. It's such a great time, but it's a bit overwhelming. There are so many plays to see and I feel so much obligation to go to my friend's shows, and there are things I want to see because people that I admire or am interested in are in them, and then there's social stuff, and it's all so hot and there's a lot of theatre, and theatre is, as we know, crazy making. Exhibit A: Jessica Moss.

But it really is so much fun. It's like a sport, and we all know that I love when theatre is like a sport. It's true! Good for my competitive spirit and cardiovascular health.

I'm trying to see stuff and trying to be a part of the scene and not feel like I'm not, even when I'm surrounded by people who I wish I felt more comfortable talking to and having a low grade anxiety attack. Because it's pretty great, to see all these people who care about the same thing, and are fighting for the same thing. And there isn't enough for all of us, it's true, but still, we understand what's going on, and every now and then we root for each other and show support in the most astonishing ways, and that's beautiful.

I'm deeply in love with Swoon!

I really adore doing the show. I love it like I loved doing Alice in Wonderland. It is so fun, and challenging in a way that is heartening rather than discouraging. But really, it's just a series of getting to do fun things. Even though my part of the show is pretty sad, it's a pleasure. And all the other parts are like dancing. Singing. Weddings. Parties. Pie shops. Fun. Love. Swoon.

I also believe in it. I think it's talking about something that's real. And yes, it's a series of vignettes, so there isn't the kind of structure that we're used to, but the stories are so so honest, and they're talking about how we all walk around just hoping so hard that we fall in love, or hoping so hard that we don't, and then how when we do, we swoon. And swooning is wonderful, but you lose yourself in that, and that can be hard. Because how can someone keep loving you when you're gone, when you've left? Or when you change. Or when they do. And there's so much funniness in when we do these horribly embarrassing heartbreaking things, and so much sadness when we do dorky cute things, because we're doing them for love, and that's either really beautiful, or really really lonely.

Yes, love is something that I don't understand very much.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Pulse is Rushing, My Head is Reeling, My Face is Flushing



There have been cuts to my monologue and I don't know if I remember them. I don't know if I can find my light. Why do I feel like I have never done this before in my whole life? I feel like I'm going to be the one to mess everything up. This is how I felt for my solo show, and this is an ensemble piece. Weird.

It's the kind of show where we can't freak out, we all just have to go onstage and love each other, and the audience will feel that and love us back. But I can't stop feeling very very scared, as if I'm the one who is going to ruin it for everyone.

But we've had amazing amazing pre-press.

Plus, guys, look:

The show is beautiful.

Photo Credit: Colleen Dauncey

Monday, July 4, 2011

Instead of Just Kicking Me, Why Don't They Give Me a Lift?

This article in the Toronto Star was pretty interesting. Yes, it's true, there's a lot of stuff at Fringe and it all falls somewhere on the spectrum from terrible to wonderful. That's a wide spectrum, and there's a lot of not great stuff. You do, as an audience member need to make choices. You can't see everything. You need ways to slim down the options.

But it's such a demoralizing way to look at the situation, when the article could have as easily be 'Ways to Spot a Great Show'. Really, the whole idea is dumb. There are great one person shows that are dramaturged and done in barns, there are terrible on person shows done the same way. There are amazing epic, musical 30 cast member shows with tons of money, and there is Lord of the Rings: The Musical. None of these things are conclusive evidence that a show will be good or bad.

But if an article about how you have to be selective has to be written, this is such a miserable way to do it. Do it positively. Or don't do this! If seeing all these kinds of shows in these kinds of venues (what the eff is the thing about the venues? So stupid. Factory back is a great space, and you're going to not come because there are STAIRS to the theatre???? Fuck you. You get to sit and watch other people sweat for an hour for your amusement, you can climb six stairs), is such a pain for you, GET ANOTHER JOB.

It's frustrating that I have a hero worship problem, I have so much adoration for so many people in this industry, I'm so jealous of people who are able to make a bit of a living doing this, and I get let down when people in these positions of power, be them artistic directors or reviewers, give me the sense that they aren't in love with theatre. I feel devastated and confused, and then angry.

Because I'm totally in love with theatre and it isn't always the best relationship but I'm in it and I love it in a way that makes me lose myself.

And if you don't, then don't review it. Don't come see it. We don't need you. People are here trying. People who don't get to go or don't choose to go to the theatre get involved in Fringe and that is an amazing thing. Why would you publicize any reason to put the kibosh on that? How is that good for the community that grants you your employment?

Oh, it's very upsetting.

I guess it's the thing I have talked about before that it is so easy to condemn, to shut down, to judge, and put yourself above everything. It takes energy to be positive. It's not easy.

Swoon! was hard for me to be positive about for a long time. I'm learning that I am not really that bright, when it comes to understanding shows. I have an aesthetic and it takes me a while to give up on what I want and see what other people are trying to do. I like things a certain way, which I think is ok for an artist, but my brain works slowly to change and come to appreicate different things. I don't want to be that way, but it takes me time. And I can commit to the action, to working really hard, but I don't always feel it. I can come in and give 100% to your show, but my heart will be going, 'hmmm'. It's the same thing. It's a horrible thing. I'm so embarrassed to admit it. But its true.

But I've come to love this show, things started fitting together, and I didn't ever think that they wouldn't, but I couldn't always see that they would. You know? My worry is not that I lack faith in the people around me....I just worry. It's how I think. I think really it is more thinking than worrying. I do a lot of it though, and sometimes when I do it I look sad, and then everyone hates me. I have to get better at that. Because, somehow, the show works out. This has more than worked out. I'm very proud of this show, and I'm very honored to be in it.

And really, it's the same thing as looking at the Fringe and finding the million reasons to say 'no' instead of the reasons to say 'yes'. I'm working on it.

But say yes to Swoon!

Friday, July 1, 2011

For Whatever It's Worth, Charlie Brown, You're You


Or maybe not. Who knows? Do I know anything about theatre? No. I have such a quick movement towards judgement, but I know absolutely nothing. Sometimes I don't even know what I like. But I will tell you some half formed opinion based on nothing. And I'll do it loudly. What an asshole.

There is a lot of buzz about this show, and I've never been in a Fringe show that had that kind of momentum before we even started. It's a bit exciting. It also makes me feel that even though I'm still doing Fringe, after all the theatre that I've done and all the work I've put in I'm still back at the same festival, some things have changed. Not everything. But we're different artists and people than we used to be, people know us ( a bit, or they think they do), and we can make waves with the quality of our work, and the way we know how to promote it, and other people will make waves for us for those reasons too. So that's good.

(I'm telling myself this in part to help think that I am moving forward, because I have been doubting that in the past few days. The stuff I have coming up is exciting, and I'm lucky to have any work at all, considering my atrocious looks, hideous personality, and shocking lack of talent. But I always want to feel like I'm taking the next step and moving up and any number of cliched phrases that sound like the lyrics to a 90's sitcom theme song, and I don't think that's happening. Blurgh. )

Or maybe this is just a show with a very large, very attractive cast, and that's all it takes to get people talking. Probably that.

So much of being a good actor is being likeable. Being a person. Having vulnerability and humility and insecurities. I think I have all these in my real life, but then I get onstage and sometimes I find myself doing this hyper-aware-over-articulate-hypenated-fast-talking-girl-thing-who-is-too-smart-for-everyone-and-has-no-soul and I don't even know why. That impulse to perform in a way that immediately turns people off is so strong. I do it. I see other people do it. What's up with that? I guess it is scary, if you let that go, because then you're just some schmuck who is scrambling to know lines and hit the mark and not ruin everything, and you're wading in all of these horrible feelings about your own lack of everything. So it's easier to just talk-loud-with-hypens.

There's non actors in this cast so I've been thinking a lot about what makes people work onstage and why we bother going to school to learn to do this human thing. And, yes, you can see training. I didn't use to, but you can. There's being comfortable onstage. Having the muscle and the awareness to know that everything you do onstage is magnified, so there has to be intention behind everything (no scratching your eyes!). And that's a thing you learn doing shows. And talking loud enough, and speaking the speech in a rhythm that makes it clear, and all that stuff, which is just time. You spend enough time onstage, you get it. NBD.

But then there's this thing about who has a soul and who will let you see it. Who will come out and just go for something, even though going for anything has in it the seeds that you will very possibly fail and it will be tragic. The non actors in this show are so amazingly good because they have this incredible humanity, this honesty and sensitivity that is related to them being good people, more than it is to them being actors. You see it onstage in a way that, when you see it in real life, you fall in love with them. I worry that I'm experienced enough to have lost this quality. It isn't so clear to see this in real life, the moments aren't magnified in the way they are on stage. Someone really listening to you can go unnoticed in real life, or how softly someone touches your hand, or the specificity of a really personal story that you are lucky to be hearing because they don't reveal it to anyone, those moments are raaaaare in real life, and I think you can miss how special someone is because we're not used to seeing that. But onstage, someone's heart can just radiate out of them and you all get to see it. And that's worth watching. That's the moment you pay for.

And then there's this chick. She just stomps her feet and makes these ethnic slurs all day. I don't know what's up with that.

Photo Credits: Alex Felipe