Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come Blow Your Horn, Start Celebrating

Yes, I am procrastinating doing things I have to do by writing a blog post. Wanna fight about it?

Also, I have no theatrical pictures to show, so I'm posting, for the first time I think, evidence of one of my deepest loves: text in strange and public places. There's something about it that makes me feel lonely and connected at the same time.

Anyway, the procrastination. It's not my fault. I don't have anything now coming up for quite a while, and it's so hard to work really hard on stuff that seems far away. I want to announce things but I'm going to wait until they're all official like, because I am nothing if not proper. But anyway. I have irons in the fire, but the irons are like a million feet long and so the fire is just this little flicker in the distance, and I can't care about that when there is terrible television to watch, right?

Well, they probably aren't that far away, and there is stuff that I have to do NOW for proposals and putting things in motion, know. It's just very easy to slip into apathy. Terrifyingly easy. I'm also tired. I FINALLY finished all of the performance stuff I had. Since May, I have always had something coming right up. And now I don't. I was supposed to have a project in October and it got cancelled. It's kind of a big bummer, and it's thrown me from feeling quite comfortable with having a month long break to absolutely panicking about having a three month long break. I turned stuff down because I thought I was doing it, which I guess is a lesson to never turn anything down, but, realistically, I couldn't have done them all, so I guess sometimes things just don't work out and it sucks, and that's the real lesson to learn. Shitty lesson!

So. I'm in some sort of paralysis between apathy and terror. I think this is where I live. I should move.

For the past two nights I was helping my friend do a cabaret fundraiser for her new theatre company, so I performed some weird schticky thing that I do, my vocal masque, which I have spoken of here. It really is my favorite thing to do. I just love it. And it went well, people were into it, which is always so exciting. I didn't know many people there, so I felt strange about performing, but as socially awkward as I felt, it was really great to see new faces and have them see my work. And to be applauded and told lovely things by people who have no obligation to. Nice to expand the network, but it's even nicer to be confronted with how many people are fighting so hard, how many people are willing to put themselves out there for art and friends. And how very talented some people are, like this lady. And cabarets are so great, to see all this different kind of stuff, one thing after another. I don't go to many, but every time I do I always am thrilled that they did not out last my squirrel like attention span. And I had a terrific time at this one.

But, now I'm all out! No more performing for a bit!

Frozen yogurt instead?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Little Ways You Try Together

Last night, in the midst of torrential downpour, and in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE, I read stage directions for my friend.

This friend! Hi, David!

Ok, so the torrential downpour mostly happened after we were done and it was more beautiful and exciting than anything, the lightning was pretty incredible and alternated between bolts and sheet lighting, so everything was lit up in a variety of ways. And it wasn't the MIDDLE of NOWHERE, but it was the east end, and Christ, that is far from my house. I am so very much a west-ender. I couldn't believe I had been on a streetcar for twenty minutes before I even got to Yonge Street. Oi. Anyway, I don't have plays in my life anymore for a time, so I have to fictionalize ('lie').

It was ok, but reading stage directions made me feel that I just wanted to be in the play, and it makes me realize how very petty I am. I really still am that girl who gets put in the chorus and just wants to play Sally Bowles. Or, more accurately, the girl who does props for our high school production of 'Cabaret', because she quits theatre the week of auditions, and then spends the year lamenting it. I was in the chorus for everything else that I auditioned for. 'Tommy', most notably, where I as in 'B' Chorus, because I wasn't good enough to be in the fun numbers! Moving on!

But everyone who read was good, and it's nice to hear a play aloud.And the stage directions are fun and beautifully written. It's especially great to hear a play I LOOOOOVVVEEEE, like this one. The Art of Dining by Tina Howe. I just love her so much. Man. Her play Museum was the first show I ever directed, also back in high school, and I have just been so totally nuts about her since then. Her plays are full of glee and whimsy. All the characters are these ridiculous live wire versions of over the top people, no one listens to each other and everything is always funny until it's not. It's perfect. I want to do this play very very badly and last night reminded me of that. Even with my selfish and self-conscious desire to play every part, it's nice that a group of people can just read together. When I'm not working (and I'm not), what else is there to do?

Because really, all theatre ever is is a group of people in rooms. So it's nice to be in those rooms and remind yourself that you're making theatre. The little things, the little things.

The little things add up and stress me out a lot, but doing them makes me feel that this is what I do. That it's not just the big productions I have to wait on that make me a part of the community, but just on a given Wednesday night, I might be reading a play. On a Thursday and Friday (such as today and tomorrow) I might be performing in a cabaret. More on that later. When I figure out what I'm doing. Eep. But when theatre and performance are a part of my casual life, it makes me feel that they are my life. I like that as much as it makes me tense.

I do want a project now though! I'm done with the break!

It was at this beautiful wine bar, Swirl.

Here's the best thing about Swirl:

People write wishes in the drawers of the tables. Best.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

But Now Go With Dignity

So, another one down.

Our houses were pretty solid the whole way through, which was great, and a bit unexpected, for me, as we didn't have a ton of pre press. SummerWorks is hard. You're competing against the people who you apply to for the rest of the year, because there are emerging artists but also really established people. It's also a bit of an inner circle thing...I have never really felt a part of it. I find it exhausting and intimidating, and even when I'm in shows that are part of the festival, I feel like I'm crashing a party I haven't been invited to whenever I see shows.

But, of course, I'm a crazy person and not to be listened to.

Anyway, I didn't see very much, but I did see ONE, which was an Orpheus/Eurydice type tale from Calgary and I wept hysterically during it. It was so beautiful. So many images that I wanted to create myself, I was watching things I had dreamed of be put onstage in front of me. Weird. Sad, kind of? But also amazing. And then I saw some other stuff and that was kind of ok too.

I wish I had more pictures of Long Dark Night, although the promo shots were kind of killer and nothing could match them. Mostly I just wish that I had some shots of my in my costume, which was kind of really beautiful. And my hair was awesome.

It was a hard one, just because it never felt like we were ready and I don't really like feeling that way. But I loved the show, and I loved my character, and it's the kind of part I've wanted to do for so long and never thought I'd get a chance to do. Plus, I got to be in a musical, and it made me think that maybe if I worked hard on all the stuff that you need to do in musicals, which I wouldn't mind doing, I could do more. And we all know that musicals are the nearest and dearest to my heart. Our reviews were mixed, but I got singled out a lot. Which is nice, I guess, but it's nicer when the production as a whole works and is recognized.

I feel a vague sense of sadness and I'm reluctant to say its post show depression, because I feel it kind of hasn't hit me. We had so many days off because you only get six shows at the festival, so I have had lots of days without shows, without rehearsals. But I guess having two days in a row without anything is weird. I've been doing the things that the humans do. Going to the gym. Responding to emails in a timely manner. Sitting. I have become one of the women reading The Help. Ugh.

I'm grateful for a break but also kind of antsy already. I haven't really relaxed because I have two little theatre things that I'm doing next week to help out some friends, so I still feel I have shit to do. On one hand, I'm tired and eager to not be involved in any performance. On the other, I know it will about twenty minutes before I start worrying and wanting to be in a show. After that stuff next week though, I'm anticipating the dam breaking. And it won't be pretty.

Boo boo be doo!


Burst through set!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Though I Practice Yoga, I Don't Breathe

More amazing pictures from Tanja Tiziana. I love these so much.

We opened the other night.

And it was rough.

But no one died.

This is the thing I have to keep reminding myself: no one died. No matter how bad the play is (and however bad the play is, it feels way worse when you are watching it from onstage or backstage and feeling each moment trickle out of you like some deformed baby you have brought into the world), it eventually ends and it isn't so bad. Because it's just a play. Not such a big deal.


I'm not the best guy at being positive, I am more the kind of guy who immediately wants to surrender, after turning on every other member of my team. I panic. I don't usually jump ship, but I jump all the way around the ship, screaming, much to the disappointment of the other sailors.

So there were mistakes, but we lived to tell, and there will be new, worse mistakes tomorrow. But we dealt with missed entrances (VERY missed, actors not even backstage or aware the show was starting entrances), non existent props critical to the action, entire verses of songs forgotten, scenes not being changed, sets falling apart or not making it onstage, the piano getting unplugged....

I aged ten years backstage. I was pretty much in a Jessica Moss brand state of panic from beginning to end. I actually started thinking things would be ok, before the show I felt confident but then it all just derailed.

But again, no one died. So I have to stop mourning and fretting as if someone did.

And then we did the show again today, and it was so much improved. Really, we just needed a run in the space. And it's unfortunate that during these festivals, that happens often on opening night. And that just as often, opening night is reviewed. But one review came out and I actually think it is pretty fair, if not the best review. And the show today was much cleaner, and we can really only go up from here. With this show, I really hope we can get the 'stuff' cleaned up, all the exits and entrances and tech, because its silly and funny and who knows when I'll be in something silly and funny again.

I have to chill out. But how do you stop caring about something that is important to you? I feel a bit guilty because, as I have been told, everyone knows when I'm upset, and it's like a tidal wave of negativity that can bring others down. I don't mean to do that, but I'm capable of it, and when I get upset, I don't care so much, and just let that rip. And that's hard for other people. Especially people for whom this is just supposed to be fun, not a career.

But, and I said this earlier, its really only fun for me when we get to work really hard, and when I believe in the work. I've either got to figure this out, or I've got to only take projects that make me excited and will lead me to feel this way. That's difficult to predict though.

Anyway. I have some good news that I want to share but I can't yet, so I will later and that will keep me going.

And until then, I will just go on solving mysteries.

Friday, August 5, 2011

You Cross Your Fingers and Hold Your Heart

Urp, we have to open tonight.

I don't feel very ready for this opening, which is fair, I think, when its a show like this that is quite big (in that it has a set and a projector and tech and 5 people and songs and dancing), and we only had 4 hours on the stage to make it happen.

There are the openings that you're ready for, where you're chomping at the bit and really need an audience, and then there are the openings that come out of nowhere and bite you in the face.

Although someone was saying, what would we do with more time, and its kind of true, we'd run it but we'd never really be prepared, because how can you prepare yourself to be bitten in the face? There will always be blood. There will always be surprises. There will always be tears. So you just do everything you can before you get run over by the train. And then you cope.

I'm coping by freaking out! What else is new?

I freak out all the time!

I'm trying to summon up some excitement. I am excited. But right now I'm just nervous. I'll be excited after we open and have conquered that. Because the show is fun and funny and totally unpretentious and that's wonderful. So once I just get through it once it will be ok and I'll be back to my neurotic self.

Honestly? I'm looking forward to not being in a play for a bit. After this I have a reading the week after, so that will keep me busy, and then I have a month where I don't have to perform (except, you know, my screaming fits on the subways and dramatic monologues to gay boys begging them to love me so that we can just watch musicals and cry together all the time, which are the only activities I'm interested in, sexually or otherwise). I'm kind of really looking forward to not performing. Of course, that looking forward will last approximately nine minutes, and then I will frantically try to cajole an army of homeless men into staging my rendition of 'As You Like It', as that's probably the only company that will ever let me have a shot at playing Rosalind.

And then we'll do my masterpiece, 'Ot-Hello Dolly!', a conflation of two great works. (Actually this is my total dream).

Monday, August 1, 2011

And You're Aching to Move But Your Caught in Her Web.

So I'm difficult.


I'm a hideous man eating fire breathing spider woman!

I push because I want things to be really good, and that comes off as bossy, or aggressive. I have certain rules, like I really try to never ever give another actor notes (because when another actor gives me notes, I want to flip right the hell out), or try to tell anyone how to do their job. But when I'm working, I can go into this mode of super focus and speed, of wanting to drill things that need drilling without fucking around. And when I get worried or scared, that mode becomes even more militant. And really it is just me going inward so that I don't get mad or say something. It looks like shutting down, and I guess it is in a way, but its also how to cope when the going gets rough. The only alternative I've found to that is freaking out, and that doesn't work. So I get kind of stroppy, I guess? Quiet. Fast.

And sometimes that all comes across as BITCH.

I'm so terrorized by the idea of being a difficult, demanding actress. It haunts me that my this reputation already exists about me and will preclude any success. I will be like ChaCha

'They call me Cha Cha because I'm the best dancer at St. Bernadette's'. 'With the worst reputation!'

But the thing about Cha Cha is, SHE COULD DANCE.


And I am difficult, but I really believe that you can see hard work, and you can see the effort and the care and the skill onstage. So I push to make the show as good as it can be. It's just always scary that the way you are, and something that I think is positive, like caring about shows, can come across as being a negative and something that makes people count you out. It's a girl thing too...the stereotype of the impossible actress. GREEN M AND Ms ONLY!

So I push myself and I try not to push anyone around me, but I do, even when I don't mean to. Because I am frustrated now when I'm not in stuff I really believe in. I've done enough of plays just for the sake of doing plays. Now, we make art! Or not really. I just want to be in good shit. Partly for my career, because I'm always looking for the thing to take me to the next level and all of that. And partly because it's only fun now when it's good. If I'm being honest. And good is not the same to everyone, but I want to believe in the work I'm doing, even if everyone else hates it.

I'm working on it. Trying not to be so impossible. I can't really expect myself to care less. I care about everything! But I'm trying to be aware of it. Because I like other hard workers, but I know that not everyone does, and I have to be able to work with as many types of people as possible. It's hard. It's hard to not be who you are.

Anyway, because I'm an actor, I just spent the better part of two hours to try and recreate this hairstyle:

Good thing I have nothing else to do with my life!

Except rehearse. Which we are doing. As much as we can. And it's coming together. Yup.

Happy August!