Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Clock is Ticking, That's for Certain

I didn't want to blog today, but I will! Where's my cookie?

Isn't that what we're all wondering? Where's my cookie?

Things move along. The work is good. A lot of returning to stuff from before. It's fun to go be a student again, because it kind of helps me see both how much I do know and how much  I don't. It's a confidence booster in that it makes me realize how much training and work I have already done, but it's also a sobering reminder that there is so much more to know and go deeper with.

We do a lot of stuff with time limits, where we have a certain amount of time and then have to present. This terrifies me. A very short time limit of a few minutes or hours can be really debilitating to me. I just start to crack under the pressure. So I'm battling that and my worry that I'm terrible and everyone hates me. So it goes.

I think the subject matter, which is related to The Twilight Zone is really inspiring and exciting. I'm super turned on by it.

We play this game called 4 Square with is terrifying and I'm bad at but is really fun.

I'm learning and struggling and I think that's what it is. Sometimes that's thrilling and sometimes it's not. Pretty exciting though.

Monday, May 6, 2013

No Canary in a Cage for Me

I am super going to try to blog every day while I'm out here doing the Ghost River Intensive in Calgary. See how long that lasts.

I'm so not reckless, and I'm so not someone who just 'does things', and this is a thing that I'm doing. So I'm really proud and excited to be out here.

Where the sky goes all the way to the ground!

Like, I did something. I took a chance. That really is hard for me.

We're going to be creating a show together...me and some strangers. There is no one from Toronto here which is JOYOUS and THRILLING. It's cool to gain some perspective that there are other markets, there is art happening all over, and also to not really have my past matter as much, and to not be able to be as intimidated by people, because I recognize the companies and the work they're doing less than I would were they all Torontonians.

Of course I'm still intimidated and dealing with all my shit about how I'm the worst in the room and no one likes me already, and all that fascinating stuff. We talked today about what makes a space safe and the thing I kept being reminded of is when Damien Atkins, one of the best teachers I've ever had, along with Paul Dunn, told me, as I sobbed about how stressed I was about the piece I was writing/performing said that my feelings were fine, but they weren't the work. And that being hysterical, even though it came from the work, wasn't the work. If things can really just be focused on finding the best way through the show, it doesn't hurt so much. I don't have to grind, and it isn't awful when someone is hard on you or doesn't like what you're doing. It's just the work. Ann-Marie Kerr could kind of do this too. Give a harsh note but it felt like she just wanted you to be better. So I just have to focus on the work.

And the work is very cool. Eric Rose is the dude what is leading it and he asks a lot of questions that make me hum and buzz. I feel like he is speaking my language. That's exciting to me. Being from planet Oddball.

Devised work, collaborative work: stuff that I love but mostly say that I love and am not really suited to. I'm trying to chill: that's my challenge to myself. Control less. Listen more. I want to contribute and I don't want to dull my excitement because I think that's actually something that's good about me, and I want to care, but I don't want to care to the point that it stops me from working. That's what usually happens. This is all practice. This is all learning. Everything is just the thing that takes me to the next thing. Is what I'm trying to tell myself.

We'll see how it all goes.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

There Is Life Outside Your Apartment. But You Gotta Open the Door.

I'm going to Calgary tomorrow.

I've never been west of....Burlington? No, Hamilton. Or Stratford? For someone who doesn't get to travel enough I sure don't know my Ontario geography. Anyway, I haven't really been west except that i did go to Calgary for a public speaking competition in grade 12, but I remember nothing except my abject fear and how greasy the pizza they served us was.

I'm training for three weeks with a company that knocked my socks off when I saw their show at SummerWorks a while back, Ghost River theatre. They do cool stuff, like this thing, which is the dream of what 'Modern Love' would be at some point. I saw this while I was writing 'Modern Love' and was overcome with jealousy and admiration and a feeling of having found kindred artists.

And this is what I saw at SummerWorks:

This is cool, yes? This is pretty much what I think theatre should be. I am excited. And nervous. There will be other people. That's always scary. Who will like me. Who will think I'm talented. Will I be a strong part of the team or the one that gets carried along. It's scary. But I'm really thrilled and buzzy. I'm hoping it reconnects me to theatre. I haven't been writing here because I've been in one of those moods where I go GEE THEATRE CAN REALLY KILL YOU.

And I have a bad back, because....I don't know. Because things happen. I could launch into a tirade about how I'm this hopeless, hapless person who OF COURSE  busts her back before going into an intensive training program, but let's spare ourselves this, eh? Things happen. Nothing is ever perfect. Life gives no breaks. Why should I deserve them? Just keep fighting through the pain and try to see the good even when you can't stand up straight.

Adventure time!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bing Bang Boom, Let's Get Tough Playin' Rough

This thing from Arthur Penn is pretty interesting and really worth a read. 

I'm difficult and sometimes I like myself for it and sometimes it gets me into a lot of trouble, but I do like it when people fight, and people care, and people are something other than what everyone else is.

I was recently told I was 'too strong' for a character, which might have just been a way to let me down, but if it is true, is one of the worst reasons for not getting a job ever. Cast strong people! Make the rest of your cast step it up! No commitment to mediocrity! Also, given the particular character, I just think it is a terrible choice and will ruin the play. Characters are strong. Actors should be strong. Give your audience, give the play, something great, or awful, or big, or insane. But something.

I want to work with nice people and I think I can be nice, and I am on time, and I know my lines and I'm very very good at showing up (this is the one positive thing that can be said of me, I show up when I am supposed to, and often when I'm not), but 'pleasant' is not the same as 'good' and that's not the same as 'exciting'. A little cackle means there's a fire!

Having just been in 'The Clockmaker' room where I was definitely the least experienced and arguably the least talented, it was really great to feel challenged and that I had to step up and that I would let people down if I was anything less than 100 percent.

I also just love a good fight when someone really cares. It can be like an intellectual colonic.

I think there's a way of balancing kindness and rigour, and I tend to fall on the rigour side of things, but I really believe there are environments where everyone is pushing and pushing each other and still everyone is happy. I have to believe that work can happen in that kind of room and that I can find those kind of rooms and get to work in them. Someday. Somewhere.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gleam in its Eye, Bright as a Rose...

It's really fun when things just seem to start happening in the world of the play. When scenes that you've done again and again surprise you and make a new sense and scare you and thrill you, and you are in them.

I really loved a scene tonight that has sometimes been good but not always. It was very alive, very uncertain, in a really great way. It's such a great feeling. We had a day off, so the whole play felt kind of fresh and new to me, in a way that was exciting, not as if I had never rehearsed and was in 'The Actor's Nightmare'.

And then, you can't bottle it. It disappears when you try to chase it. Crumbles if you reach for it. You can't go out and have the same show. What a pisser.

It's a kind of frustrating thing that you think you understand the play and you put all this work into it, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The work takes you to the point, hopefully, that even if it isn't flying it is still moving, it is still working, it is still a show, the right show. But there's that other something, that pixie dust, that makes it worth doing. I just don't know when it's going to show up.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March Comes in Like a Lion, What Else? Still the Snow Never Melts

I'm here!

Yes, that's right! Sudbury!

I have been watching Game of Thrones lately, and the Sudbury landscape is such that when walking alone late at night, I have the giddy feeling that direwolves might be watching me.

Which would be thrilling. Although I have had three separate experiences, walking along Paris street in Sudbury, where I thought I saw small woodland creatures. I quickly became attached to them and gave them names. They were:

1) Mr Squiggles, a hedgehog
2) Minerva, a white mink
3) Gander, a great grey goose.

In reality, these things were:

1) a hunk of snow
2) a piece of garbage
3) a hunk of snow

If you have poor eyesight and a need to care for something, you will get your heart broken a lot in Sudbury.

The show is going pretty well. Opening was weird in the way that openings were weird, and the second night was weird in the way second nights are weird. Yesterday I felt was a good show. But it feels like the bones are there...we've spent enough time with the project and the script and production are strong enough that the show still soldiers on, even if there are those terrifying moments and slip ups and strange ghosts.

I don't like to talk about my miserable theatre school experience, but I do have to say that one thing that was beneficial was whenever they talked about just working from wherever you were, and coping. Working hard enough that you could cope with whatever ended up happening to you. That has proven to be quite valuable to me.

I feel very honoured to be in this show and working with people I've got to work with. They all have a great deal more experience than me and have been able to carve out really interesting, inspiring careers in theatre. They are, though, all dudes. So while I can't emulate their career paths, I can emulate their work ethics and attitudes. You want to be near people who you want to be near to. That's it. People who are positive and exciting and hard-working and game. I feel like I'm kind of watching them like a little direwolf, taking notes. They're really wonderful. And it's encouraging that they have had careers. Its encouraging that anyone has a career. It's quite amazing, actually. And the crew here is just the best. I'm very lucky.

Before I left my friend Rose was talking to me about how she recently had a part (in another Stephen Massicotte play) that she didn't feel was really her hit, and how wonderful it was to get to do that and how she learned that she could do it. And she said she thought this experience might be the same for me. I'm not sure if that's happened. I don't know how I'm doing. I feel a bit divorced from how I feel about my work. It never feels great....the experience of being in a show and the thrill of it and all that fun stuff and certain moments feel great, but I never ever feel like I was really good. I don't know what this means. I don't know how to work on this either.

But all in all, it's going well.

And, of course, in the birth of anything lie the seeds of its destruction and it ends in a week and I might never act again. My summer is a very large question mark....I'm waiting to hear about something to know how to proceed with something else. I have to put together a self-tape in the next few days, which is always hugely stressful, though it was a project I'd love to do, so that would be great.

I'm hungry for Shakespeare. It feels like when I am dehydrated but don't really know it and then drink water and it tastes cool and clear and like the only thing I'd ever want forever. I feel, at this point, my Shakespeare days are over, but I am longing for it like hydration.

I'm trying to make this freedom and how much energy I have and how much I want to do things, I'm trying to make all this into some kind of frenzied kinetic motion that means I put on my own fucking Shakespeare play, write my own stuff, cast myself in the roles that no one will cast me as and just take over, but I inevitably just feel defeated and lost. It's hard to convert fuel to movement. It's so much easier to just watch Game of Thrones.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Curtain Up, Light the Lights

Opening night tonight.

Last night, even though I was kind of nervous and worried about my next (non existent) job and all that shit, I thought about how I am the luckiest person to even get to do a thing like this even once in my life.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You Can Always Cover One Til He Blacks the Other One

I'm doing a show. This show:

Up in Sudbury again. I've had a lot of thoughts about my process and all the other boring things I talk about on here, but I've also been in this show, so I have not had the time nor presence of mind to blog. I will at some point, likely when we open later this week. Suffice to say I am insecure and nervous in the ways I am always insecure and nervous, and thrilled and grateful and happy in the way that theatre and getting to work in theatre thrills, gratifies and happifies me. So we can conclude that I am still myself. Sigh.

I got a huge rejection right before I came here and that has been clouding my experience and also making me re-evaluate a) theatre and b) blogging about theatre. What else is new? I am really upset about it and it feels like I dream I had died and I lost complete respect for the company and the artists that made the decision and so maybe its better I won't work with them again, but I'm still very very sad about it and all these things make me go, what is the point? So I'll blog about that at some point too. Still myself!

The thing that I wanted to share is that  in the play what I am in now I play an abused wife, and have to have these marks on my legs to show where my husband has hit me. I am told that these marks look ok from the audience, although they look a bit like Craft Corner from my vantage point.  The absolute best part of this is that the paint goes on wet and I can't put the rest of my costume on til it dries, so every night I sit around in my dressing room alone in my underwear, gently fanning my loins.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why, Charlie Brown, You Really Have to Delve

I did a theatre thing last week as part of the Rhubarb festival, and I have been thinking about it a lot.

I was really scared and intimidated the whole way through, which is happening now with  more and more of the things I work on and is starting to maybe indicate to me that I'm not an actor? Maybe I should be like an arts administrator? Or maybe I should just hide in a cave like Caliban? I remember at school everyone always had to remind me to find the joy, the sunshine, in work, because I just tend to put my head down and hammer away at things until there is no happiness. I do feel joy, but I feel acute terror now.

But anyway. What was more interesting to me was that the show and the way we approached the show demanded me to act in a way that I don't normally. And I struggled, and I got better, but not really good enough, and I learned about how to approach the show, and I thought about it a lot. I had to act less, which is hard for me. I'm pretty performative and reactive and emotional in my real life, and I have some sense that if anyone casts me (please someone cast me), it's because they're interested in these qualities. These things what I do. There's an aspect to it that's about branding, about the business of theatre, that there are these things what I do that kind of make me different, or give me a 'hit', or make me suitable for certain kinds of roles.

But then there's a deeper sense, that I carry around, that they are 'what I am'. That this way of acting, what I do IS what I am, that it's true in some sense to me. It's become stronger because I wrote a one-person show that I felt really represented this side of me as an actor and want to write more and explore it and am identified with that style of performance. I have some sense that there's a way that I act and that is really who I am.

And when I was asked to not do it, and the play was better because of that, and I had less of the impulse to do the habitual stuff that I do, I was still myself, in a way?

It's amazing to think that any quality you use to identify yourself, either for good or bad, is a construct. I have some strongly-held idea that what I am as an actor (and as a person?) is very fast, very loud, I just throw a lot of energy at things and that is what makes me special, that is what makes me useful, and that's the only way I can be an actor, because those are the things that make me 'me'. But really, they're just things that I do.

I've found this really liberating in the way that standing in front of a large and hungry grizzly bear must be really liberating.

On one hand, everything is open. There's endless possibility to how to behave and you don't have to come in to things with 'your' personality, or 'what you do', because those things don't exist in any real way. Maybe I'm not just a quirky sidekick. Maybe I can write a frenetic one person multi character show but I can also sit in a chair and just tell a story simply. Freedom.

Horrible horrible freedom!

On the other hand, it's scary to think of yourself as not really having anything to hold on to. Just being a vessel, or a changeable thing. These things that you are, you can't rest on them in any way, because they're just ideas that you have, they aren't real. You kind of crumble like toothpicks.

How incredible that as actors we look to ourselves and we become other people and all of these are just really ideas and who are all these people that we're supposed to be?

This all relates to this show about identity that I'm trying to write, but I don't really know how. I don't really know anything!

Anyway. The Rhubarb show was really interesting and an incredible piece of writing that I was lucky to get to do, and I learned a lot and wasn't actually even sure how to talk about how much I learned, or what to do now or how to use anything that I thought about to move forward or do better, but if there's no 'me' that's really thinking I guess it doesn't matter anyway?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oh I Believe In You

I am having a crisis of confidence lately.

I'm not sure what to make of it, but I just keep trying to think about one of my favourite parts of 'Harriet the Spy'. When everyone in her class hates her for writing about them in her notebook and she is having a terrible, time.

'First she went to the bathroom because she hadn't in the morning, and when she was sitting there she wrote in her notebook:


Monday, February 11, 2013

Though It's Fearful, Though It's Deep, Though It's Dark

This is wonderful in so many ways.

Isn't it reassuring to hear that others are scared too?

the Scared is scared from Bianca Giaever on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I've Always Said That I Was a Rover

I'm cheating on my play.

What's that quote? The pleasure isn't in having nothing to do; the pleasure is in having something to do and not doing it. Something like that.

I have a few things that I should work on, writing wise. Nothing really has any possibility, so I'm still just kind of pushing myself along with no promise of money, or recognition, or forward momentum, but that's ok. There are still things that I have been working on for periods of time and I want them to be better and I want them to be plays that do get money or recognition or forward momentum at some point.

And I've put enough time into some of them that I really need to keep going, if only for my own sanity and for something to write on my tombstone other than 'She sure could eat a lot, eh?' (Coming up with what to put on my tombstone is one of my great morbid pleasures! Other things I'm considering include: 'No one tell me what happens, I haven't finished it yet!', 'Laughing on the Oustide, Crying Within', and 'Was this food for everyone?' The great thing about them is they all also function as chapter titles in my autobiography, should I one day wake up and realize that I'm Lena Dunham).


Here's how I feel about what I should work on:

And here's how I feel about unborn plays that I COULD write:

The projects that I should work on are invariably less fun than the projects I shouldn't work on.

You know what's great about a play that isn't written yet? There's a certain gleeful period when it's more than just a spark, it's a whole image, or character, or idea, there's some fuel in it, but before it's a play that's full of holes and problems and damn characters who don't do anything. This is usually, for me, the same gleeful period when it's something that I am interested in, but don't care enough about yet that it's pressure, pressure, oh my god so much pressure. The play doesn't have to be anything yet, and I haven't put enough time into it to feel like I need to make something out of it, it's like what the romantic idea of writing is, that an idea just comes and you are swept away by it and transported and then you stop and continue to live your life with this wonderful little fairy of a story humming along inside you. Possibility.....

This lasts for usually about five pages.


It feels like Santa Claus, like someone just popped in to give you presents. You let your old, fat, boring play deal with itself and spend time with your hot new play lover.

Until that play lover deserts you and leaves you stuck after half an hour. BUT UNTIL THEN......

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Check Your Personality

Thinking a lot about 'type' and 'hit'.....partly because I have some new headshots and I stare at myself and think 'who is this person? who do you cast her as?', and partly because I'm struggling when I get cast as my type and also when I get cast against it, and it's kind of endlessly puzzling to me.

This is one of those boring business type things that I hate, but really, if I put a little bit of time into the boring business stuff and get better at it, conceivably I have a better chance of being able to act and make theatre all the time, and so I'm willing to put up with it.

There's the person/actor that you are, that people immediately peg you as and that you are easily. And things being what they are, for me that usually breaks down as 'ugly'. I get parts that aren't for pretty girls. There's some wonderful stuff in there and I've had some really cool opportunities and there are, actually, some parts within that hit that I would really like to play professionally...Maria in Twelfth Night, maybe (which I've done but never for cash really and I GOTSTA GET PAID). Or some of the women in 'Our Country's Good', which I'd love love to do. Or Sonya in 'Uncle Vanya', which is a huge huge dream role. 

And I know I can do that stuff, and when I see that stuff in the breakdown (key words: plain, lonely, quirky, clumsy, supporting) I'm like, 'awesome!'. But then there's another part of me that wants to be challenged and wants to be seen in a different way, partly because it's frustrating to always think of yourself as a hideous troll, and partly because, you know, you dream of the great parts, you don't always dream of being the maid. 

The weird thing is sometimes I get one of those parts and I freak right out and spend weeks saying how I'm not pretty enough to do it and I'm miscast and I talk myself right out of that. Under special skills on my resume, I have 'making myself feel bad'. There's this duality of not believing I can do it and FIERCELY believing that I can do it, both at the same time. Of KNOWING that I'm that funny ugly maid and also knowing I'm not. 

I'm writing a one-person show about self and the myriad of selves we are, and I know for a Tim Hortons commercial you just need to be one thing, but, like, sometimes I'm a mom, and sometimes I'm a sidekick, and we're all so many different things, and even the 'me' that isn't, that I dream about, there's a reality in that somewhere. There's at least a theatrical reality in that, in the same way that if we're all witches or in Italy or on a spaceship I can at least be a version of myself that might not really exist, can't I?

ISN'T IT AMAZING THAT THERE IS A SELF THAT DOES THIS THINKING ABOUT ME? Man, sometimes I think about the brain and I just have to go eat something. 

I really think that knowing what roles you can play and how to present yourself in order to get in the door and start working is a smart thing, but then there's a point that you want more. Beyond that, I don't  like that I think of myself as only one thing. It's limiting me. I dont' want to think that I can never play certain roles because if I have to think that way I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep going.

It's an amazing thing, this in-between of reality and fantasy. You need a fantasy, but you accept reality? You strive to be seen as more than you are while staying who you are, or discovering who you are? Identity is defined by what people peg you as, but you keep dreaming? You create the fantasy of the play with (or in spite of) the reality of the actors. Very weird. Very rabbit hole. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

No Need to Tough It When You Can Slough It Off

This is what I'm trying to do:

In a less delicate way:

I am aspiring to LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR. Like Beyonce.

I walked away from an audition feeling like crap today (argh. Blargh. MY ONE SHOT. Blargh), but recently even if I've had a good audition I've walked away and started obsessing about everything I said and did and what it meant.

And honestly it's not so much the torture of that that bothers me....I'm quite accustomed to the torture of auditioning and of my own mind, but there's something so BORING about caring after a certain point. Like today as I was getting ready I started to panic about my hair, but after a certain period of time, I just get sick of myself being someone who is willing to spend that much time and effort on their hair. I actually bore myself. And it's boring to complain and it's boring to make excuses for myself (which of course I do). Who really wants to hear about a crap audition? Unless you vomit fireworks or somebody starts screaming, it's just not that interesting. So....I just want to move on from things once I did them. I did it. I work hard. There are lots of possible outcomes (really only two), but lots of ways to come to those outcomes and lots of things that can result from either one of them. So.


Also Tupac:


Because I only want to be fascinating and thrilling and sassy, just like Beyonce! Isn't it wonderful to meet a fascinating person? A lot of people are not interested in showing you how fascinating they are, and a really good way to show people how not fascinating you are is to complain about shitty auditions.  And a good way to be fascinating is to be BEYONCE!!!!

Tomorrow I have another audition, but in general I'm quite concerned about the lack of auditions I've had for summer. I've submit to a lot of places and none of them even want to see me. Could it be stories of my rampant boorishness and ceaseless swearing have reached them all the way in the regional theatres of southern Ontario? Has my unfortunate reputation preceded me? Hopefully something will come through for the long hot summer although I'm not sure what my options are.

Otherwise, I've been watching this endlessly. It's Thea Sharrock's really wonderful production of 'As You Like It' at the Old Globe from 2007. It is all on YouTube, in 12 parts, quite well done, and how I've been spending my time the past week. 'As You Like It' is my favourite Shakespearean comedy because I think it is frothy and glorious and full of love, and this production really captures that fizzy feeling. I just love it:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Well the Lord Made Me a Lion, But the Lord Forget to Make Me Brave

Oh man, I guess sometimes I forget that I have a blog. No, I remember always that I have a blog, but I figure you probably aren't interested in hearing most of the thoughts in my little head.

I had nothing to do and now I have to do much to do and this is a problem like what my friend Caitlin quoted from my first fictional husband Chandler Bing (actually it's Ms. Chanandler Bong) when she wrote on my facebook wall: 'Oh no. Two women love me. They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet's too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight!'


But what's the one thing I like more than Muppets? More than Brownies? More than when children fall down and their parents dont' want them to cry so they make absolutely no reaction and yell, 'you're fine, get up!'? Yes, inventing problems.

I'm doing an application and I'm just overcome with the dread that someone's eventually going to read it. And if they read it, they'll judge me and think I'm terrible, and I'll live the rest of my life NOT KNOWING that whenever they see me they'll go, 'Oh, there goes that crappy theatre person'. This fear expands to not being able to show the work to people before I do it, not being able to tell people that I'm applying or ask people to work on things with me (BECAUSE THEY WILL REJECT ME).

It's really hard to do work and then it's really hard to show it to people.

I have some auditions too, and it's the same thing. The terror that they will think, 'God, is that what you think is good? Is that your best?'

Putting yourself out there artistically is just really terrifying. And while I've been doing it for a while now and survived it, even when it went poorly I am still, technically, alive, and I am still, to some extent, creating, and I am still, to a smaller extent, getting to perform on occasion, it still feels really scary. How can it not? If you care about something, it hurts to see it hurt. Or thrown away. Or just not recognized.  I don't think this is a debilitating fear, because I do keep going. i feel that I'm really vulnerable and live on the precipice of quitting, but I do keep going. Somehow. But it is a fear that's preventing me from sharing the work as much as I could.

Because getting other people on board would be great. Being able to get feedback from more people would be great. Not being worried that when someone says, 'I don't want to direct your show', or 'this doesn't work for me', it really means, 'you are the least talented'. And if it means the work gets better, I really want to do it. But that means I have to overcome something and OH GOD I'LL DO IT THIS AFTERNOOOOOOOON!

Brave is hard, eh? Brave has fear in it. It's hard to move past fear.

Also, 30 Rock is ending tomorrow and Liz Lemon is my spirit animal and what am I going to do?