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.