Monday, December 31, 2012

One, Two, Three And

Here's the plays what I saw in 2012. Most of them, at least:

1) Living With Henry, The Washing Machine, The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A Go Go, Hypnogogic Logic, LoveSexMoney, Loving the Stranger at Next Stage.

2) The Blue Dragon (Mirvish)

3)The Book of Mormon on Broadway!

4) Follies (Broadway)

5) The Golden Dragon (Tarragon)

6) Penny Plain (Factory)

7) Kim's Convenience (Soulpepper)

8) The Who's Tommy (UC Follies)

9) One night at the Rhubarb Festival, second week (Buddies)

10) The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs (Tarragon)

11) Frances and Marybeth (at Factory)

12) Clybourne Park (Studio 180)

13) Gruesome Playground Injuries (at Theatre Centre)

14) The Real World? (Tarragon)

15) Venus in Fur (Broadway)

16) One Man, Two Guv'nors ( Broadway)

17) Lost in Yonkers (HG Jewish Theatre)

18) Bring it On! (Mirvish)

19) Rent (Lower Ossington)

20) Some stuff at Fringe: Fishbowl, The Dinner, Transit Diaries, Help Yourself....quite a few things there, but I don't remember it all very clearly. I think I saw about 12 this year.

21) When It Rains (Summerworks)

22) Macbeth (Humber River)

23) Tear the Curtain! (Canadian Stage)

24) Mister Baxter (at TPM)

25) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway)

26) Grace (Broadway)

27) Miss Caledonia (Tarragon)

28) Delicacy (at Factory)

29) Speaking in Tongues (Canadian Stage)

30) Eigengrau (Red One)

31) Bloodless (Theatre 20)

32) A Theatre Hetarae Event (at TPM)

33) Ignorance (Canadian Stage)

34) This is What Happens Next (Necessary Angel)

35) Terminus (Mirvish)

36) War Horse (Mirvish)

37) It's a Wonderful Toronto (TPM)

38) Sleep No More six times.

This seems incredibly low because I feel that I see quite quite quite a lot of stuff. There is this awful trend of not giving you a ticket which means I can't put the ticket in my book, which means I don't remember it, and the same with a program. There were definitely a handful more, and even more that I missed and wanted to see. Oh so much theatre. Oh good lord.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Needs Work

That 2 a.m. moment of clarity where you realize your play makes no sense.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Any Moment Big or Small Is a Moment After All

I had an audition this week that was for something pretty big, in the grand scheme of things (and completely insignificant in the GRAND scheme of things, but if we're going to think that way, we might as well just give up on blogs altogether. Also maybe on our lives.). One of those rare auditions that you're like, 'Oh, wow, I'm auditioning here! Someone that I know is going to see me! This could really change my career and this could really change my life and this could really change my self'.

And that's pretty terrifying and enough to make you shit pure liquid out your pants, but as I was waiting in the hallway to go in I had this weird kind of peaceful thought:

'Welp. At least I can say I did this'.

And the audition itself kind of became the story and I pictured myself telling it to someone at some point, that I had auditioned there, in the same way that maybe I'd tell someone I once stood at Four Corners, and like how excited I get when people tell me that one time they met Madonna or ate octopus or saw the Northern Lights, someone would hear me say that I had once been there and go, 'Wow!'

If a career in theatre can be enough in those moments, if the mere fact that I would try and fail, and show up was enough, it would be incredible and I would be so satisfied and happy. I think. If as far as I got could still be amazing, even if I never got paid to do it and never made it to Stratford or Broadway or even onto another stage again, that would be something, and maybe I would be more grateful and peaceful and probably eat fewer carbs.

I don't think there's a lot of hope for me moving forward in this, so I'm trying to hold on to that feeling. I feel lucky to be seen and I'm glad I got to go in and I did something, and I think I did it ok, and maybe what I did was too weird and immature and maybe I'm too weird and immature, so maybe it just isn't a good fit anyway, and let's just be happy for the moments that we did have together. But there's this ominous feeling of 'what's next' and the worry about that and the fear of that feeling of rejection, knowing how I will feel even though I'll try so hard not to, and ick.

In the meantime I'm overhauling a play and I'm finding the slaughter of my babies to be depressing and thrilling all at once.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dramas Annoy Us and Ruin Our Nights

All I'm gonna say is I saw a play the other night that everyone else is saying is really amazing and is getting great reviews and has incredible actors and I fell asleep.

Like not 'asleep' asleep, my eyes were still open, but I would leave and venture so far off in my mind that every time I returned to the play I was surprised by what the characters would say, because there had been simply no precedent for what they were saying. Although, there probably was, I just was sleeping through it.

'Whoa! Where did that come from? She sure is angry. Oh well. Off I go again...'

I wrote monologues and thought about my own plays, and my own life, and watched more entertaining scenes involving myself and the life I wish I lived in my mind. Practically from the beginning. I'm sure it's a really great play, I just was totally not there for it.

I feel like I probably have no right to say this. All these critics who know so much more than me are loving it and other people in the theatre seemed to be having an all right time. But the facts are, officer, I was bored.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Got a Rock and Roll Girlfriend

I've been reading Patti Smith's Just Kids lately. I have developed this habit of rereading books immediately after finishing them. I'm finding it hard to feel 'done' with things, I finish something and feel there's more to be mined. There were a few plays I couldn't put back on my shelf because I felt I had to have them around all the time. So I'm in the middle of my second read of this one.

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe have this amazing relationship that fills me with envy and romantic longing.

And because they're artists, and he became a photographer, there are all these amazing pictures of them that I just love.

They are so the cool kids. I wish I had pictures like this. I find them really inspiring in a melancholy way. 

Apparently Robert Mapplethorpe would look at all his pictures and say, 'That's the one with the magic'. I think these all have the magic, but I mostly just love the idea of looking at things that way. And having the confidence to know which one did have the magic. He was right though. His stuff is amazing. And magic.

There's something about all these pictures that is so lovely, so artful and yet so unposed. Easy edgy. I think this is what 'cool' is, although having never been cool a day in my life I don't know if I'm qualified to judge. 

Don't you wish you had a friend like this?

Don't you wish there was someone who understood that doing things like taking amazing pictures of yourself is equal parts cool and goofy, and loves that?

Patti Smith talks about how they could work together, on separate projects, so happily. And how PROUD they were of each other, how giving, artistically. 

I'm trying to learn to be less jealous and intimidated, to be more loving of other artists, because obviously I know how hard it is, and we all have to be held with so much grace. I wish I had nothing but joy for everyone else who I was competing with, for everyone who is trying, like I am, to do something incredible. But it's hard. It's hard to be fully behind someone else when you want what they're going after too. It's hard to not feel jealous. For me anyway. 

It's frustrating that the community feels more like competition than community. I don't want it to, but I'm perpetuating it with the way that I feel. 

I said to someone a while ago that I think I want a creative partner the way most people want a romantic partner. The idea of finding someone who loves your work and pushes your work and creates things with you and makes you better and understands and is your little armour to the world, the thing that wraps you and protects you and lets you go into battle. I'm very in love with this idea. It's never happened for me. 

There's also something, to me at least, about the friendship being the work of art in itself. I'm writing something about that right now, but there's something about the creation of yourself as you're working on something, the falling in love with who you are because of the amazing people you've managed to get around you, that are working on this thing too. You work on a project and you fall in love with the people who are also working on it, and it makes you feel cool for a second too. The reflection of your love makes you beautiful. And that in itself is an artistic creation.

You create yourself in the work you do and the relationships you cultivate, and the self you create is the artist you want to be. 

I don't know. 

But there's something here that's beautiful and rare and intended and mysterious and of a moment that stays with you, and I think those are all things that great art should be. 

'Where does it all lead? What will become of us? Those were our young questions, and young answers were revealed.

It leads to each other. We become ourselves.'

This is my favourite picture:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pick Your Left Foot Up When Your Right Foot's Down

This is an interesting read.

I'm doggedly applying for some grants right now, even though I don't know what projects are really valuable and I should keep working on and am generally feeling a little eek. I love Angels in America, and the scope of it is so incredible (I've said the same thing about my ongoing lover, Sleep No More), and I wish my work didn't feel so small and insignificant. But then if I write something for more than three people, it might never see the light of day.

This balance between how to make art and then how to get ahead and be business like so that you CAN make the art you want is very tricky and I don't know how to balance it. And of course, just thinking like that makes me frustrated because shouldn't I just create, create all the time, huge things and do it for the sake of themselves, and if no one sees it it doesn't matter?

I can't think that way. Because it does matter. Like Roy Cohn says in Angels in America, 'clout'. You need to be noticed. You can't push into a vacuum. It will suck you right up.

Anyway, that was one of a few inspiring things I've been surrounding myself with. Reread Angels last night. I will finally see a version of it next summer because a theatre company here is putting it on and I'm so excited. It really is a thrilling piece of work. So exciting to see something so big, all those ideas be chewed on like that. Ugh, start small, get big? Go big or go home?

My friend Jenna and I saw a play the other night that wasn't the most inspiring, but we were both kind of wracked with desire to be up on stage. And then we talked about whether it's better to just throw caution to the wind and throw something up and if it fails oh well, or if something has to be good, has to have a certain value or it wasn't worth it anyway. This kind of relates to this big/small debate. Do you do what you can just because you can, or do you wait until you can do something huge, but risk that that time will never come?

Of course, my feeling is to do something impossible immediately, but I get in to trouble an awful lot.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's a Quiet Thing

Here's the anatomy of my rejection. A break down (how appropriate!):

1. A blow. Punch. The air is pushed out of my stomach like you're stepping on a balloon. I get that winded feeling where everything sinks, the whole of me reels in to my stomach and then evaporates in all directions. Like that camera shot where things simultaneously move closer and farther away. That's also the visual image I've had when I've experienced the worst of my panic attacks. 

It's a gasp of air that doesn't make it. A chunk of bubblegum that has been rotting in you for years, and you never noticed it til right now, all of a sudden there is a rock inside of you. 

And stillness.

2. Immediate depression. Low grade, kind of petulant sadness. Little kid sadness. Not the sadness of children, which I think we all know is unending and would melt you if you saw it, but the sadness of little kids, when they cry and no tears come out, when they fall and look back to you to know if they're hurt or not. Sometimes solved by ice cream or a lash of whiskey. This doesn't last very long, this one. 

3. That amazing part of me, of all of us, that survives, the part that is not destroyed by the fire, but purified, kicks in. 'Oh well'. A certain resilience. This is the part of me that keeps me from falling off tall buildings. I dont' give it a lot of credit, but it is there. It, again, doesn't last long. It goes, 'There will be others. It is their loss. Oh well. Who cares?'

4. Immediately silenced by the hideous hose beast who lives in my heart and says, 'I CARE! I SUCK. I HAVE NO TALENT AND WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CHANGE MY LOT IN LIFE. GIVE UP GIVE UP EVERYONE IS LAUGHING AT YOU. FALL OFF  TALL BUILDING!'

(We know who this is, right? This is Madam Mim as a dragon from the Sword in the Stone! It's amazing how much she looks like me!)

5. Then, I get a kind of numb quiet feeling. Empty. 

A huge part of being rejected (as an actor, but even more so as a writer, which is the current rejection I'm dealing with), is the feeling that no one cares what I think. No one feels the way I feel. No one is interested in what I have to say. This becomes terrifying as an artist and makes me think that I'm not an artist, and then it goes deeper and makes me think I'm not a human being. I look at stuff that goes on, or is accepted, and am flummoxed (an excellent word, that, excellent). It makes me think that I don't get what everyone else likes, so of course they don't get me. It's what loneliness feels like. It's that moment at the part where everyone is having so much fun and you start to cry. 

Numb numb numb. Something vibrating so intensely that you can't see it moving at all. 

I flip back and forth between this numb feeling and total despair. Occasional rallies from within of 'you can do it', or whatever. The most effective of these are when I pretend that I'm being interviewed after a great success, and I say these places that didn't support me, and look where I am now, fuckos! Does that make me petty? Probably. I am not getting better at handling rejection. It slays me. It slays me. 

And then, I guess, there's the carrying on. At some point I won't carry on. At some point it will be the end. I'm never sure if I'm at that point. I always think I am, but then something happens, I do something, and even if I remain distinctly not a success and distinctly frightened and confused, I do something. Right now I feel that I'm not carrying on, but I am. I think. Still angry and hurt. Still so frustrated. But I'm reading Patti Smith's 'Just Kids', and listening to Joe Tex, and watching PT Anderson movies endlessly, and reading about theatre that's being created elsewhere in the world, and I feel that these are a part of carrying on, in some way. The fuelling. The wondering and wandering. Maybe? I dont' know. It feels like a not-low grade depression, but it's also full of stuff that is beautiful and inspiring. Even if I can't be inspired right now, it's there. I'm absorbing. I hope. I really hope that this is a calm, this is an ebb, but there's something else that I'm just gearing up for. I'm not sure though, honestly. 

I feel as if I might be quitting but I also feel as if I've just begun to fight. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Though You Sometimes Do Come By The Occasional Black Eye

We are having a rejection supersale over here!

Rejection over here! Rejection over there! Rejected from things I don't even know if I care about (BUT I DO!)! Rejected from things I wanted very badly! COMING OUT MY EARS!

It comes in such amazing waves somehow. Bam bam bam.

Anyway. That's great.

This is mostly writing rejection, because I haven't been on an audition in ages! Hooray! I had a few auditions in the later part of the summer and didn't get anything! Yippeee!!!

And now we have this wonderful fall look of not being able to move forward in writing.

It's really hard to keep going and find motivation when you just feel like you're being slammed. Some are just unfortunate (you send a play that you spent weeks on, three days before the deadline, and then they say that they reached the quota that night and your script won't even be read. THANK YOU SO MUCH!), and some are just, 'but...but....why don't you like me?...I did everything right....'. They suck equally.

If I were a cool person I would embed a .GIF here, BUT I'M NOT.

I had a relatively fecund creative period, of creating a lot of stuff and submitting it. I have a lot of projects now at varying stages of development but absolutely no where to put them and no one to work on them with. Hmmm. That thought has me pretty  much bone dry, in terms of both ideas and desire to work.

All I want to do is watch movies allllll the time. All the time! The work that others have already created is somehow much more fulfilling than the angst my own work causes me.

There are three more things I should hear back from in the next two weeks, and I'm pretty sure they'll all be 'no's'. Two more will come sometime after that. In the meantime, I can either keep applying for other things, or I can watch 'GoodFellas' for the fifth time in three days.

Who knows what will happen???

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Then From Out of the Blue and Without Any Guide...

I hate my ideas.

I'm so incredibly limited by my own brain. My stupid, unoriginal brain.

Whenever anyone else has an idea I think it is just the best thing ever and then I crap all over it with my stupid ideas about what could happen next. I love step two. If you come up with an idea, I will get really excited about it for you and tell you a million directions you could go with it. I just wish I had a single original idea myself.

I'm trying to let other people's ideas just be: keep my enthusiasm and be a supportive, silent friend who listens and asks instead of saying, 'LET'S SUBMIT IT FOR FRINGE! I LOVE THIS, I'LL BE THE SECRETARY!'. Maybe I just have genius friends. I really believe that people have to own their projects, that a dramaturge or feedback giver or whatever is there as a sounding board, instead of someone who has to 'fix' things. At least before the play gets up. At least when the play is struggling to just be what it is on its own terms, when it can't even walk yet. So I'm working on being excited in a quiet way. In a 'you be you' way.

It's difficult.

The other thing I'm learning about my own ideas is that when I have one, I want to give it to someone. I want someone to say, 'yes, this deserves to live'. But inevitably, they want to turn it into their own thing, or they don't get as excited about it as I am. I don't even know what I'm looking for when I tell someone an idea too early, I just feel a compulsion to do it. And it always ends up disappointing me. I just need too much encouragement, no one could ever give me enough. Plus, I'm so stubborn that the second someone says, 'Do you know what you should do?', I want to never do it ever, out of sheer obstinance. What a monster I am. Impossible to work with or even be around.

So I have an idea now that is so so so far removed from being anything. It's barely an idea. It's like half a thought. It's a 'thoug'. But it has a bit of a glimmer and a gleam to me so I'm trying to keep it to my damn self. See if I can bring something into being myself. Eventually it will need someone. Actually, I have one show that is now finished a second draft and so desperately needs someone, needs someone to come in and look at it and help me. But this idea isn't there yet. If I don't even know what it is, how can I ask someone to love it?

So sit on it, Jessica. Keep it to yourself. For just a minute. Incubate. Mother duck. Mother hen.

This need to share, this compulsion for validation is related, I think, to my original love of theatre, which was that it was how I met cool people. The theatre is the closest I have ever felt to having friends. I want other people to want to work with me and like my ideas. But I'm alone. I don't have a company, or partners. I work by myself. There are a million independent artists in Toronto, and they don't ask me to work with them. No one is interested in what I do. This is an endless sadness to me but is the way things are. And maybe the benefit to this is that I get to really form things myself and see what they are to me before I give them away. So I have to hold on to them for a bit.

It's difficult.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Someone tell the story, someone sing the song.

Read this.

Love it. Causing a lot of pain because I think that's what I'm trying to do in the play that I'm writing that I affectionately call 'the worst play ever written' (or, alternatively, 'the roadside baby', as in the baby that maybe should be left for the wolves), and it's very hard. Damn, it's hard. So easy to talk, to use language in a way to evoke and recreate and image, so hard to make language move and push and stab and run and have characters do the same.

This thing of 'action' that we apparently do all the time naturally and knowingly and unknowingly in life, why is that so hard to bottle and stage? Stop trying to bottle it, Jessica. Then how do you conjure it?

Garrrrrrr. Losing faith that I am, indeed, a writer. Having similar fear about acting, and prospects of ever acting again. Gar. Angst. Blergh.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life's Lovely When You're a Woman Like Me

Have I returned to blog? I'm not sure. Maybe a bit.

I had some blog posts backlogged about my summer and theatre and stuff I saw and thought about but it all seems like very long ago and as if another person wrote it.

A number of things have kept me from blogging, the most prominent being my endless confusion over whether I should even continue doing theatre in the first place, and if I did, whether I should continue talking about it. I also broke and then lost my camera and as I'm sure I've mentioned already, blogs without pictures are like very bad books.

Right now I'm not acting in anything and am pretty convinced I'll never be acting in anything again. It's awful and worrisome and I don't know what to do about it.

'A ha!', you say, 'You can write!' You are wise, reader. Except I can't. I try, and I'm not that good. I've been writing a lot lately, some creative stuff and some 'please give me money stuff', but I'm struggling.

I'm trying to write a play about friendship and about memory (I AM THE MOST ORIGINAL PLAYWRIGHT ALIVE), and for whatever reason, the characters I've created have come out being girls. Initially they weren't, but I recently wrote something that there is no part for me in, and I honestly can't see myself ever producing it. I need to feel there's at least a chance I can be in the damn thing if and when I write it. Is that awful? Also, I want to write for girls. So that we have something to do onstage.

A while ago I was talking to a girl I really thought I could work with and I said that I wanted to write something for us where we played girls in school uniforms with psychotic tendencies. She immediately said, 'No, why can't we just be girls who are nice and normal and not insane?'

I was really bummed out by that. First of all, I don't think that having psychotic tendencies precludes you from being nice, normal, not insane. Second of all, because no one wants to see the play about four girls who really respect each other and have uneventful interactions full of positivity, and I sure as hell don't want to write it (also, not being a normal positive respectful person, I don't think I'm qualified to write it). And third of all, this idealization of females, this thing that if women aren't paragons of virtue they're bitches, that is just an incredible wad of bullshit. Boys want to play (get to play) Hamlet, Macbeth, Iago: FLAWS APLENTY. The great roles aren't always people you want to be....just people you want to play.

But I'm writing this thing about/for/ with girls now, and it's hard to walk that line with characters that are flawed, and characters that are just heinous bitches. How to write girls that talk back and are insecure, but don't immediately fall into tropes of sarcastic know-it-alls, or secret anorexics, or evil frenemies. I'm trying to write something to give five girls a chance to act (in my head, it would be an all-female team, backstage too), but I might be creating something that's so anti-feminist I would want to die.

I'm having an enormous amount of anxiety about this, second only to the anxiety I'm having that the play is a piece of shit. What is that about??? If I can't write likeable interesting female characters, who else is going to?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It Won't Be Easy, You'll Think It Strange

I'm a part of this:

Which is the playbill for the festival of the culmination of the writer's group I've been going to. For the of the of the.

Tomorrow my play is going to be read in front of people, or empty chairs if there aren't people to come. Either way it will be terrifying, but I'm trying to look forward to throwing up in the bathroom while it happens. We must be positive, after all.

It's a terrifying thing to have your work read in front of people (or chairs). This statement has probably lost a lot of meaning if you know me or have been reading this, as you'll discover that I'm afraid of everrrrything. I'm usually just the most terrified of whatever is immediately in front of me, and guess what, right now it's hearing my work!

There's something personal about it that's different than acting. I'm terrified about how everyone thinks my acting sucks too, but writing is different. It seems as vulnerable as acting, and you don't even get the release of acting. The release of writing is in the writing, and no one's there to see it.

But the cast is lovely and it's so kind of anyone to give you any of their time, really. And so far, every time I've heard the play read, I've been excited to work on it again. I hear the problems first, but I care enough to fix the problems, so it must be of some interest to me.

I went to the first night of this event tonight. Overwhelmed by how things haven't changed. This is what I've done for years, sit in poorly ventilated rooms not conducive to theatre and watch and perform theatre. There's so much beauty in the striving of theatre, you know, how it reaches and tries, and is performed in these poorly ventilated rooms because they're all we can afford, but people kind of come, and everyone tries, and surely all of that effort and all of that beer must lead to something right?

A lot of effort and a lot of beer sounds like a recipe for pregnancy rather than a play, but anyway.  I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Small Pleasures, Small Pleasures, Who Would Deny Us These?

I'm in a state of simultaneous rut and panic (Rut and Panic, dibs on the band name) and sometimes when I get like this I think the thing that would solve all my problems is to clean.

Cleaning's not my strong suit, but cleaning I can do. What I am even worse at is Throwing Things Out.

I love Things.

I love any Object of any degree of Weirdness or Antiquity. I love clutter and ornate decorating.

So, I have some stuff. Stuff that doesn't really do anything but that I love. Whatever it does, it's doing it right now. It takes up space and makes dust accumulate and god knows what I ever plan to do with it, but I just adore it. And I don't want to Throw it Out.

Part of it is sentimental, most of it is not worth very much but was given to me, or I found, or have held for so long that it seems like surrender to give it up, but really I want it around me because I feel that The Person I Want To Be has this kind of stuff. Does that make sense?

It relates to this George Bernard Shaw quote that I am alternately haunted and comforted by:


Comforted because I have, at times in the past, created Things, so maybe I can do that. Haunted because I know how hard it is for me to Create Things, and the possibility of failure is so distinctly present that sometimes I don't even want to try. I can't even finish a play that is any good: how am I supposed to create my whole self?

But I am extremely charmed and delighted and covetous of things possessing whimsy, beauty, quirkiness, oddity, color, and I think that might be something close to a character trait. Of this person that I am creating. So I want to hold on to my love of stuff because I feel it feeds in this creation.

So pretty! I'm in love with nesting dolls right now.

I've been thinking a lot about inspiration. Searching for it, although how can you search for something when you don't know what it really (see also: happiness, fulfillment, beauty...) And thinking about it, because I feel full of ideas right now, but hopeless about how to turn them from little snippets of Thing in my head to anything that I can write and then anything I can put on stage and then anything I can act in and then anything that anyone will ever want to watch. Not even about what's possible, because another thing I'm not good at is being realistic, so I don't really care about what we can do, we would figure it out, but I don't know how to make anything happen, and I'm not sure what I even want to happen.

And I feel I need the Inspiration to give me the Idea to give me the Project that I then Create (somehow) and by doing this I become The Person That I Want To Be. Or something? It's not a great plan. Sometimes it seems very clear and other times it is apparent that things don't work out that way. However, I am good at delusion.

But in some tiny way that isn't working right now, I think my stuff inspires me. I really hope it does.

One of my favourite things ever is this blog, The Style Rookie. Now there is an accompanying website for teen girls and it is everything you could hope for, even if your'e not a teen girl. The amazing creator, Tavi Gevinson, of these things does these wonderful collages of images, sometimes all put together, and sometimes just randomly assembled on a web page.  This blog is so amazing to be because there's like some alignment of the creation of who she is, in her style, in her words, and who she actually is. I guess in a way that's just honesty, but I also think it's something more. There's aspiration and inspiration in there, too, I think, picking up pieces from what you've seen and carrying them forward with you thinking about them, or not thinking about them, but them becoming some part of you in some way. The you you are and the you you want to be.

There's something about her brand of  clutter and my brand of clutter that makes sense and beauty to me and I think that's what I want to put in my theatre work.

I think....

I'm not sure all of this has much to do with theatre, but I kind of think it does. I'm trying to write some plays, and some grants for plays, and this is happening while I'm in some sort of malaise that is mitigated by cleaning, and cleaning always makes me think I should Throw Everything Out and Become a New Person, except I love Things, and we are again. Inspiration and Creation. And Not Knowing. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

See You Later, I'm Going to the Back of the The-atre

Sometimes the urge to misbehave in the theatre audience is so incredibly strong I think I could ruin my whole career and everybody's night for the satisfaction of one huge well-placed groan.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

You're Terribly Dull to Be With. Yes, I Am.

There is nothing like a dreadful audition to make you consider a life of crime!

Now, I'm sure in the crime world, there are lots of ways to similarly embarrass myself. Maybe my ski mask wouldn't match my form fitting body suit. I'm sure it's really terrifying meeting mob bosses, and you make tons of mistakes, like quoting from 'The Godfather' too much, in an attempt to ingratiate yourself. It's especially uncomfortable if you mess up the quotes. 'I'll make them an offer they can't diffuse!'

Dear lord. Sometimes I walk in the room and immediately know that the people auditioning me think I'm dreadful. At this point, I have two options. One is panic. I haven't figured the other out yet. It must be a life of crime.

I really like to act very badly when the people in the room are wondering why you're even there. When they are looking out the window instead of watching me, or yawning, I like to take these opportunities to really stink up the joint. I'm sure there's some kind of liberation to be found in that, but it's entirely unintentional. If I could somehow decide to be a horrific actor, I'm sure it would feel wonderful. But I become paralyzed by some weird apologetic fear that makes me really boring and strange. BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

Oy vey.

I really wish it wasn't so painfully obvious. They give you these 'thanks for comings' that really sound like slaps on the ass. Or maybe that's worse, when they're actually nice and you think you might have not done the worst job in the world. Anyway. It would be amazing if I could start turning rejection into some sort of bouyant force, which it becomes eventually. I find a lot of my past rejections pretty funny. But in the immediate aftermath, there's just some vague sense of humiliation. Like eighth grade.

But anyway, we are MOVING FORWARD. Like George and Wheezie, we are MOVING ON UP.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

By the Fancy Tie Round Your Wicked Throat

I made another trip to New York and saw 'Sleep No More' for my fifth and sixth times. I'm going to talk about it now, as I previously have done here.

Oh boy. So, I don't know. I feel strangely obsessed with this show. It's such an incredible experience.

I've never seen a piece of theatre like this. There are pieces I likely would have wanted to see time and again ('Brief Encounter', 'Brief Encounter', oh my god, 'Brief Encounter') and I saw 'BoyGroove' four times, which is not too shabby, and 'Les Mis' probably four or five, over the course of my lifetime, and various productions of 'The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged' that account to no less than four. But I've never made pilgrimage after pilgrimage searching for something like this again and again.

And I'm not even sure why, to be honest. I'm starting to feel bad that I've sunk so much money and time into this show when there's so much I need and want to see.

But it's really wonderful.

It's like a puzzle to figure out. The part of me that just wants to see magic, wants to make theatre that has people go, 'how did she DO that?', is fascinated by this amazing thing that they created. So many cues, such tight movement of actors and audience from place to place. How can they orchestrate this? Where does everyone go?

There's also something so deeply personal about it, it gives you such incredible ownership of your own experience, because you have your own little journey. There's like some sick pride I get from having a good run, from seeing good stuff, from the little accomplishments, like seeing the scenes I want, or getting an interaction from the actors.

And this time around, I got two treasures:

A locket and a charm! Which makes me feel special and lucky and a part of something in a way that isn't really real, I know, because they are given out to countless people several times a night, but still, it is real, because I feel it. Little treasures. For me.

Which brings my haul from the show up to this:


Part of me knows that my attraction to the piece is that it's the kind of work I wish I was cool enough to create. But I would never make this. It doesn't have enough humour for me. It's too sexy, too hip. It allows me a peak into the brain of the artist that I wish I was. If I could ever be in it, I would either play some like wounded little shy librarian being vulnerable all over the place, or I'd play some silly maid who makes fun of the whole thing.

Because I guess I know that the stuff I do is small and dorky and quirky and I have a lot of love for that stuff, and I'm just trying to create the work that I love and want to do. But a part of me hates that I'm the dorky quirky girl, and wishes I created this amazing stuff with people coming out of the ceiling and all the nudity. SO MUCH NUDITY HOORAY!!!! It's nice to live in a world that I normally wouldn't be allowed into.

I haven't, in previous times, got this, but this time, I really did feel like I was hearing the script. I was hearing individual lines, seeing them move through space, back and forth through emotions and energies in the same way an actor works through a monologue. Maybe this is me projecting, but I was definitely seeing a specificity in lots of the dances that I hadn't been able to see before.

It's an incredible achievement, in so many ways, and makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. Or my art. I can't get anything together.

There's some balance between being inspired and feeling hopeless. It happens with things that are wonderful and things that are dreadful, for me, and it's anyone's guess as to how any individual piece sways me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Can Either Be Distinct or Wind Up Merely Mediocre

Long time, long time. I suppose things have been happening, but I'm not sure what they are.

Some of them I know, and will write about, I guess.

I wrote a draft of a play. On one hand, this is a minor accomplishment, because it's very messy and doesn't make a ton of sense right now, and it might not even be a play that I or anyone else has any interest in. On the other, finishing things is incredibly hard, and I finished one part of the process of writing something. It's not easy.

(A note: I am writing this while watching various 'SpiderMan' movies, and I am buoyed by my prospects as a writer because the dialogue in these is DREADFUL. Maybe I just need a steady diet of crap to make me have some confidence. No, that is a complete lie. I want a steady diet of inspiration, with casual breaks for 'Parks and Rec' and 'Community').

But I did write it. It has like, kind of an ending, and it's of sizeable girth. I think it will ultimately be a play of more than an hour (it has been reading at about 1:25, but that's not accurate). That takes a long time. For me, anyway.... In a meaningless and quantifiable way, it is 'more' than I have ever written creatively before. Or at least since I was a kid and would write endlessly and prolifically, at a pace I've never been able to recapture.

So, this new play is being read and worked on by some people who I either have worked with before and trust a lot, or people whose work I have admired for a distance for quite a while. Which is incredibly lucky.  Actually, the cast is so good that I am struggling to believe it came together.

I went to the first read to hear it, and feel terrible about what I had created, and listen to everyone do a better job than the play deserves, and then I made some cuts, and now I've left the room.

And of course, the first read had a pretty great spread:

It's kind of out of my hands now. I have been writing it for what seems like ever, mostly because I had the regiment of being in a writer's circle. While I'm not sure about how to write as a group, and how to take suggestions from other artists, when we're all trying to learn and become or create who we are, having to have something written every time we met was incredibly helpful. Really, I think I'm writing this play in the hopes that I'll be able to apply to another unit or circle, because I need some sort of small demon insisting that I write more, faster, better.

But anyway. My friend Christopher is directing it, and I'm not going to the rehearsals. He's going to do a great job and so are the actors. But they now (finally, it took longer than I wanted to for me to get out of the room, because it just seemed like there was and still is so much that could be made better) have a draft, and they're going to do things with it, and then I'll see them when everyone else does.

Yes, this is a backlogged picture of Christopher, but I love it so I am using it. 

I wanted a break from this play (maybe from theatre in general?), in part because it's been my writing focus ever since 'Modern Love' ended and I need to look at some other things, and partly because it's a way for me to see what's clear in the play for outside eyes. If this reading comes back and has nothing to do with what I wrote, I know I've written some problems. But it's still hard to leave something that's a part of you, in a way.

I'm trying to deal with my own control issues of my work, but I also want things they way that I want them. I'm not sure if that makes me an artist or an asshole.

I've been reading a lot of David Mamet, his advice and criticism, not his plays, and I'm totally into it, but one of the things that I feel he's telling me as I read is 'do what you do. Don't listen to anyone else. Push the way that you push for the things to be the way you believe'.  This is obviously my own desire to hear this, but I do feel that I'm being drawn to him right now because of these things.

I'm negotiating this balance of wanting to do things my way and knowing that everything needs a second pair of eyes, that things need to resonate with more than just me to be successful. But does that mean I have to give up everything? Does that mean I have to take all the suggestions that are lobbed at me?

There has to be a way of working that lets me feel that I have ownership of the work but that lets other people in, and lets them feel their own ownership of it. I just haven't figured it out yet. It's difficult. I'm difficult. I realize that. And I flip wildly back and forth between thinking that I might have something valuable to contribute to theatre, and that the reason I'm not as successful as I want to be is because I'm just not as good as I want to be. And never will be. I'm not sure if there's a point at which I can ask people for feedback and feel ok with it, and not feel like it is an infringement on my own process, or even who the people I should ask for feedback are. Are these things I'm going to learn? If they're always things to negotiate, how can the work be as good as I want it to be, instead of just as good as it is?

But anyway. This is a great experiment and I'm lucky that the people who have agreed to work on it have, because they're all so talented. Why would they want to work with me anyway?

Because who am I?

I'm Spiderman.

(These movies are really terrible!!!)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wish Me Luck, The Same To You

Isn't it amazing that we do the same thing every day again and again and then suddenly we don't do that thing anymore?



I'm not sure how to process it. Maybe there's nothing to process.

It's ridiculous that someone like me, who hates change, who craves permanence, who dreams of I Will Be With You For Ever and Always, who is looking frantically for the things that last, and desperately trying to hold on to the thing wants to be in theatre, where there is nothing to hold on to. Like, what am I even missing? Not even anything that's real. A sense of identity. The ability to say I'm an actor. Having a place to go and a thing to do, even if I'm terrified that I'm not doing it well enough.

I guess these are things. But the play remains ephemeral, a lot of the work remains touch and go and here and there and indescribable and the things I am often searching for are feelings that don't have words or maps. How can you miss stuff that isn't even there?

Except it is there, somewhere. Somehow. And you can miss people, and you can miss having a purpose, and you can miss you used to think you were.

One of the things I've loved is seeing these quotes every day. The Tarragon dressing rooms are covered in lines from the shows that have been there.

Being a sucker for Canadian theatre, it made me feel quite a part of something to be surrounded by lines said and written by people who get to do what I wanted to do for such a long time. And to see things last, to see some degree of lasting in these plays that have all gone away.

And now there are contributions from Was Spring.

I picked that one because it seemed weirdly appropriate in terms of my own experience, as an actor. As a person too. And it seemed to sum up how scared I was of this experience. Kit's little admission. There were so many lines that I felt were better representatives of the show, but I really did love that one.

And then I drew a flower, because, well, that's the kind of girl I am.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Little Birdie Told Me. Oh, I See.

And then, just when you're about to quit, some guy will come up to you in a Shopper's Drug Mart and say, 'Hey, this is weird, but I really loved your show at Next Stage'. And then you'll hear him leaving with his girlfriend and he'll say, 'She made this wonderful show, it was amazing'.

Of course, you'll be paying for the most embarrassing assemblage of products possible while this happens, and you'll be so overcome with shock and joy that you'll drop them all over the floor, and have to thank him while your bent over, picking up the overpriced merchandise you require to deal with your hideous human form.

So it will even out.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Only Way Out is Up...

A leeeeeeaaaap of faith.

The best thing about the nadir? Things have to get better.

The thoughts that I have I stil have, and they aren't going away, but they seem less impossible right now. In TheatreBooks today, someone recognized me from 'Tout Comme Elle', and I revealed that I was in the store looking for what's next. He shrugged and said, 'That's what it always is. What's next?'

I guess that relates to 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.' Samuel Beckett. Who probably also had somethings to say about crippling depression and not knowing what the point of it all is anyway.

It's still hard. I'm still paranoid. I'm still figuring out how to deal with that, because it's a horrible feeling, and if I can't get rid of it, I can't do this anymore. So I'm trying to change challenges: not fighting myself, but fighting my paranoia. Not focusing on how awful I am and how I have to quit, but focusing on how I can make myself stronger so that I don't quit.

Or not. I read this. I'm considering it. Maybe that's what I need to do. It feels wrong, but maybe it would do me some good. I'm not sure.

But tonight I went and saw a performance done by a youth group at Factory Theatre. I was lucky enough to go in and chat with these girls after they came and saw 'Modern Love' months ago, and they were all a delight, so I wanted to go and see what they had been working towards. Amazing and inspiring to see the younger generation, who write and act so openly, who show the joy of being in a play. They were totally incredible and it was wonderful to sit in a theatre and feel so open, so wanting them to succeed, so thrilled when they did. Joy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Remember Mediocrity is Not a Mortal Sin

Note: I started writing this blog post about a week ago, and lost my momentum. So it might be weird because of that. It also might be weird because I am weird. Sasquatch.

I've been going through my general struggle of not feeling so great about myself.

(Side note: 9 times out of 10, I misspell or, more accurately, mistype, 'great' as 'gret', and I think of Dull Gret, who is a character in Caryl Churchill's 'Top Girls', and I start trying to think about how the first act of that play connects to the second, and then I feel stupid and hate myself because the amount that I don't understand or get about theatre is enormous, and I should become a garbageman. EXCEPT THAT I DON'T DRIVE AND CAN'T LIFT MORE THAN THIRTY POUNDS AND BAD SMELLS MAKE ME THROW UP OH I HAVE NO SKILLS).

I'm reassessing my own relationship to this blog because I STUPIDLY had some reviews come across my path and it made me feel really, really terrible about myself, and I am dealing with that. And how it's manifested, in one way, is me have to rethink about criticism in general, and what any one person's thoughts about seeing one performance of a show has to do with anything.

I'm a compulsive consumer of theatre criticism and maybe I should give that up. I obviously can't deal with it in relationship to myself, as much as I think it's valuable. So, I'm not sure what my own opinions about theatre should mean to anyone else. Of course, I don't review. I talk about my own experiences in a way that is completely subjective and compromised by the fact that I am telling my own story the way I see it, and by the fact that I am weird. Sasquatch.

I don't review theatre because I don't think artists should review the community that they're trying to be a part of. Also, like, who am I? Oy, reviews. I shouldn't have read them. Lesson learned.

It's amazing how people throw you away, the things that reviewers think they have a right to comment on, how quick people are to trample on you. i don't know why I didn't know this before.

My paranoia has become a bit crazy doing this show. I'm very worried about what everyone thinks of me. The feeling that I get, or the feeling that I'm creating, is that no one thinks I'm doing a good job and no one wants to be near me because I am untalented. I'm not sure how real any of it is. It's made me reassess whether I'm strong enough to continue in this profession (Everyone I have ever met says: OF COURSE YOU ARE NOT, GO BACK TO HIDING UNDER THE COVERS, YOU STRANGE AND INSECURE BEAST).

Now writing this I wish that I had been more diligent about recording my feelings through the run of the show, but really, it has just been a lot of fear. Happiness and gratitude sometimes, but those are the small positive voices rallying from deep within a pit of insecurity. They seem very weak.

I'm trying very hard. It's not always enough. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's Bad Luck to Say Good Luck on Opening Night

Five stages of opening night:

1. Denial

(I am shaking my head in this picture) No, it can't be. I'm not ready.

2. Anger


3. Bargaining

Just give me one more preview. Or a few more notes. I can do it then, I swear. I'm good for it.

4. Depression

I'm going to start doing my application for nursing school. This will be the last time I ever perform in my life.

5. Acceptance.


Actually, the five stages of opening night are anxiety, anxiety, anxiety, anxiety, and drunk.

It happened and I lived. I'm so looking forward to the nuttiness of reviews (which I am not reading, honestly, although the threat of them is buzzing around in the back of my brain) being done, and just doing my job. Doing the show for five whole weeks, which is the longest run I've ever done, and seeing how it grows and living with it. Not having to fight to promote is a huge change for me. Normally I'm praying that a show I'm in gets a review, because any exposure would be helpful and we're working so hard to be seen. This time I don't have to fight, don't have to do anything but act really (unheard of), and the review are going to come and they are scary.

All of that kind of seems like a bit of a distraction from the play, from the story, so I am looking forward to it being over and doing my job. The play. The story.

Ugh, isn't it awful how I always am looking forward to something that is not the something that I'm in? Even if the something that I'm in is something I was previously looking forward to? What is up with that?

I have to now figure out the routine I'm going to have for the next few weeks, that will allow me to do the show, write a million things (which I am very very behind on, and kind of worried about), go to the gym, find a joe job, plan my summer and the rest of my life, and become the kind of amazing person that I plan to be every Monday, but who I hate by every Tuesday.

It's kind of unreal that it's now running, this idea has been in and out of my life for two years, that I might get a chance to do something like this, and now this date that was so set in my mind as being a huge deal is passed. It's unreal that I got to work at a place like Tarragon, with the people I got to work with.

But I guess it's happening. As much as anything is happening. Is anything happening?