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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Here We Go!

The boys have one more day of summer holidays and then they return to school. Gibson is entering grade 2 and Oliver will be going to grade 5 this year. I get more and more relaxed as the years go by. I knew with Oliver that he would settle in as he grew more mature. He had a challenging time socially and behaviourally in the first few years of school, but by the middle of grade 3 those issues disappeared. He still wants to work fast and not necessarily well, despite being capable of better, but that too is improving. Hey, when my kid consistently cites Math as his favorite subject, I am going to be happy about it. Gibson has been a bit of a surprise as he seemed more mature socially than Oliver but the end of last year and this summer has shown a crankier and less cheerful child. I know some of the crankiness is a frustration with others when they do not get things as quickly as he does, but it is not going to serve him well in school. Academically he excels, and I want that to continue, but his social impatience needs to be tempered a bit. I think grade 2 will be challenging for him in this regard. We shall see. I expected smooth sailing from him behaviourally, but I think I should never ever plan for kids to be as I predict.

I know I shouldn't let it bother me, but a blog post by one of the Edmonton Journal writers has me cranky.

I know that it is opinion, but I am annoyed by the push for community school when Edmonton has designed their system based on program based education. The community school model works when all the schools are not program based, but when you want something different for your child they don't always work. For example, in my case I wanted French Immersion for my kids. I also wanted strong arts education and good physical education. I 'assume' that with public schools that the basic educational needs will be met in any school (reading, writing and arithmetic...). After all, that is what the Alberta Education Curriculum guidelines guarantee. Now, I can meet the arts education and physical education needs outside of school by using my own resources. I cannot, however, do French Immersion outside the school, therefore I had to make my choice based on the delivery of that program. I also know people who have children with specialized education needs who have home schooled or who have sought programs that met those needs. Not their community schools. Another interesting point I would like to make is that OUR Community school is just as far away if not further than the non-community, program based school our kids attend. The closest school is the Mandarin school... So there are no advantages such as proximity. For many kids in Edmonton the closest school is still a 45 minute bus ride away without even taking into consideration the programs offered. The article is written without thinking about the realities of how our schools are programmed and how the schools themselves are laid out. It doesn't take into account the needs of language based immersion programs (late immersion is possible, but not preferable). Anyhow, it bugged me. It also bugged me because when the writer posed his question on Twitter the night before posting his blog, I responded with my reasons for program choice, but he only responded to those people who were rah-rahing the community school choice. I think he was only looking for agreement - not really exploring the value to both options. I know that the community school is NOT the best place for my children to learn and I know many others who have different reasons for not choosing the community school and I feel that they are equally right in their choices.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Normal for me is always changing...

No really, it is. I move from project to project so it's always a little bit different for me. Fringe is done for now but that didn't stop me from going and seeing one of the holdovers (Giant Invisible Robot) with a friend this week. Actually that was the first time I have ever gone to a Fringe Holdover. Usually I am too exhausted to partake. The show was good - would have liked to have seen it in a smaller venue for the sake of intimacy (it was a one man show), but it was good. You could tell the guy had mucho Improv background.

Now I am knee deep in A Little Night Music. We incorporated Elizabeth into the show today. She did amazingly well! I think I called line as many times as she did! Really, the lines are perfect in my car when I run them... they will come... now we have a more focused and intensive rehearsal period before we open so it will all come. We did a Sitz Probe on Wednesday night and it was lovely to sing with an orchestra again (after so long...). I am really happy with this production. I like everyone in the cast and the play and music are so good.

Today I read about a contemporary deciding to quit their job because of the success and fun of her Fringe experience. These things worry me. I know they shouldn't worry me personally - it's not my life... but a Fringe show does not a career make. You have to pay the rent... don't you? It would be nice if life could be fun like theatre is all the time, but a fun life seems like a shallow existence. Who is paying the bills? The taxes? I have known others who have done this over the years to varying degrees of success... I know it is their life... but I worry about their children and spouses and the fact that while some of them had some talent, they weren't necessarily tremendously talented. Mark occasionally asks about my goals... I just want to create and tell stories. If I am fortunate enough to be compensated for it - then that's a bonus. It's too fragile a world for me to stop the work I do for the store and my family for it. All I can do is to try to do it better. On that note - I am excited to be going to Playworks Ink this fall - Daniel MacIvor will be there!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School Preparations...

We are one week from the return to school for the boys and a little bit longer for me. Now that Fringe is done I have to go through all their stuff that they brought home last June and see what I need to get. It is irritating to buy a new set of pencil crayons every fall when I know we have a huge box of half used ones at home. I think I might spend some time sorting through those and the crayons and saving some money instead of buying new ones. Don't call me cheap - call me frugal. I hate the waste!! I know they also brought home some duo tangs and loose leaf paper and Oliver has a binder that is immaculate. I'd like to reduce the purchases as much as possible.

For my school I have a list of nothing. I am doing scene study (Drama 257) so there are no texts on the list and I think I probably just need to dress to move. I am at a disadvantage there since I do not move as well as those 20 year olds, but I will do my best.

I am debating auditioning for a couple of projects this Fall. I do not want to get swamped and I want space to write. It will have to be the right project with the right people. I want to work on things where I learn... I also don't want to fill up the time and then find I am unable to do something amazing that might come along later. So, I think I have to wait for the right thing... I really should be writing more...

Night Music picks up again this week and goes into high gear next week. Sitz Probe on Wednesday and rehearsals on both Saturday and Sunday. I really need to review my lines. I know that next week will be challenging but luckily we (as a cast) are in good shape and I know we will all support Elizabeth as she finds her Desiree and moves into the show.

Today I spent some time with Gibson alone at the Telus World of Science while Oliver went fishing with Grandpa. Apparently Dad fell in the water and the fishing was not great, but Oliver had a good time and is getting quite good at casting. That's pretty cool. Gibson enjoyed having me to himself and spending my money!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

That All Seemed to Fly By... But I think I did my best to enjoy it moment by moment...

It's the last day. We have had a fabulous Fringe. Our little drama Sold Out it's last 4 shows. We had decent and appreciative audiences for the first two as well. We exceeded our expectations. I know we might never have it this good again so I resolved to simply enjoy it. Best compliment was yesterday when someone who sat through it in the sweltering 4 p.m. show told me that they wished it were longer. Who knows, maybe I expand it... but not today. Maybe later. I had a great Fringe in other ways as well. I saw 20 something shows for just under $300 and feel good about my choices and about the fact that I supported other artists financially. I think I got a pretty good deal out of it. I met some great people. I had nice chats in line ups with people I may only ever see at Fringe. I apparently gained a little weight (despite avoiding the deep fried oreos) - that's gotta go...

Today is the last day. We have out show at 2 p.m. We load out. And then we celebrate. There will be tears - I know this already. There will be the 'I wish it wasn't over' refrain. That's a better way to end than the opposite... What a great Fringe!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


There are now two days left to Fringe. I have been at the grounds and have seen at least one show every single day so far. I think I am at 21.... I have seen some great stuff, some good stuff and some stuff that needs a little work. I have enjoyed everything or learned from it in any case. I think I did pretty good with my picks. There are shows I wish I had been able to catch (maybe today or tomorrow?) but none of them have been held over. The ones I wanted to see that are held-over I already have seen so I will leave the repeat performances to those who didn't get a chance the first time around (on that note: I recommend The Tudor Queens, BoyGroove and Grim and Fischer). I am pretty sure the others are good too, so check out a show!

Went to sleep at 7 p.m. last night. I needed it. I feel rested today and ready to enjoy what is left of the festival. Today we have our second last performance at 4 p.m. There are a few tickets left that should be released today. I have heard they are released an hour before the show, but the artist's package says something different so I am going to check at the Fringe today. I am going to try and find something to see before our show. I have a ticket to something later in the evening. Gotta see the shows while they are still there!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sting. Stung.

Do you think there are some people who have to bring you down when you are up? I am having a truly wonderful week. This Fringe experience has exceeded my expectations. It is not accidental - we have worked hard and although I did not dare dream we would do as well as we did, I am proud of what we have created. I can own that. After 25+ years of doing theatre I do not think it is a fluke or an accident. However, there are always people out there (some of whom you think are your friends) who have to find a way to suggest that you perhaps don't deserve the success. I am working on shaking off this feeling. I am, at the very least, going to wait and think about it after Fringe is done. It may, however, affect whether I ever go see any of those people's shows again - no matter how good they are. If a friend can't be happy for me when I do well, then why should I support them?

Ah, well... I guess it happens.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What a Day Yesterday Was!

Well, first of all, it was Mark and my 15th Wedding Anniversary - holy moley 15 years!!! We actually got to go out to dinner, too! Thanks to Grandma for babysitting! And then we went to the SOLD OUT show of Pieces. I was very glad I had purchased tickets so we could actually see it. Very exciting to have a Sold Out show. Right now sales for the remaining 3 shows are very good and it makes me happy. I feel like this Fringe has been a real gift to me... everything is going so well. I felt we had a strong show, but it is nice to get external confirmation. I also got to see friends that had moved away and were back in town for weddings. So nice to see them.

Today I saw 2 very fun Fringe shows. I saw Cowboy: A Cowboy Story. My biggest laughs this Fringe. I think it's Sold Out - but check with the Box Office. It is so funny. I also saw and really liked Our Balzac is Showing based on the stories of Honore de Balzac. I loved the structure of this piece (strangely similar to the structure I used in Zachary and the Storytelling Stones, but the subject matter was definitely not kid friendly!). It's raunchy and unapologetically so and so much fun. If you can't handle raunch - don't go. If you can - go and laugh heartily! The three actors are really good and committed and work as a nice ensemble in this lusty piece!

I hope you can get to Pieces. Right now tickets are flying fast. I am shocked (in a good way)! I am also hoping I have to sit in the lobby for the remaining 3 shows because of Sell Outs... If we are lucky...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fringe - hiatus - further reflection...

Saw a couple more shows yesterday and today. Still walking on a cloud and apparently smiling ridiculously all the time. It's a good feeling - I won't lie. This has been a great fringe for me and it is only a 1/3 over. My choosing from the Program and instinct has panned out alright. I did see one show today that I felt I should recommend highly.

This afternoon the weather gods that I had been praying to gave us a nice overcast afternoon for the 2 hour and 10 minute production of BARE that was playing at 12 noon at the Catalyst theatre. Thus, the hot box was merely warm. The talent onstage, however, was sizzling! What. A. Good. Show. Those of you who know me, know that I am tough on musicals. Because I can do them well, I expect other people to do them well. This group did this show very, very, very well. Gorgeous voices. Wonderful emotional commitment. Everyone knew their journey. Great band. It was well directed and despite multiple settings, the scene changes were quick and never stopped the flow. I spent the last 45 minutes bawling. No one warned me about needing Kleenex. I am warning you. I hope that I can work with some of these terrific people some day (in fact I am wondering why I haven't worked with more of them!!!). Jeff Rivet, Matthew Lindholm, Sarah Horsman, Kayla Gorman, Eric Wigston and all the rest... you blew me away today.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fringe - hiatus - reflection...

First two shows of Pieces are done - first two reviews are in and they are extremely satisfying (4.5 Stars in the Journal!!). I now have a break until Tuesday night so I thought I would take some time to reflect on my Fringe experience as an audience member. I have seen 6 shows other than my own. The shows I have seen have run the gamut. The two most memorable and resonant (for very different reasons) were The Tudor Queens (Send in the Girls) and (Real) Gone (Girl) (Cowardly Kiss).

Tudor Queens was my first show. I saw it opening night of the Fringe. A great pick to kick off the fringe, and kick it does. Although not really a burlesque aficionado I am big into the whole Tudor thing thanks to Phillipa Gregory and the TV series. Going in I wasn't sure how with was going to work, mixing the history with satirical dance, however, it was a really nice fit. Each of the Queen had their own solo number which totally worked to underscore their journey. Lots of artistic licence with the history, but all the women attacked what they were given. It's funny. It's saucy. And the 'strip' does not make you feel uncomfortable because they commit so completely. I do not know how you could go to this show and not enjoy yourself.

I saw (Real) Gone (Girl) yesterday afternoon. The task seems impossible. One actress alone onstage... she knows her movement but not her words or her story. With the use of an iPod she gets her lines a moment before she says them. Full commitment despite not knowing anything about what is coming is amazing in itself - doing it while performing a complicated movement piece is the equivalent of a marathon. It's not for everyone... more of a performance piece where you hold your breath and stay glued to her from start to finish, but for those who like to challenge themselves with something different and totally unpredictable this would be the right choice. A true "Fringe" show.

Now remember, these are my responses - they are personal - and you may have a different reaction to them... that's theatre. The audience is always right, even when they disagree.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Do You Like to Go to?

At Fringe I like to see a real variety of things. I know some people who just want to see the funny stuff and others who go for the edgy stuff, but me, I like a nice mixed bag of shows. I am picky in that I want to see a well-constructed, prepared show. A lot of people vied for those spots and there are a lot of other shows that I could be at, so I want to know that the production has worked hard for me. In fact, it is more the quality of completeness that I require to be happy with the show. I have selected a variety so far and hope to add in more as I get my Fringe-legs under me. I can't always predict if I will be able to handle a late night so I avoid buying those tickets until the day of - hazards of aging and the fact I have to take the kids to camp in the morning.

So far here are the shows I am anxiously looking forward to seeing:

The Tudor Queens
Faith Healer
(Real) Gone (Girl)
Going Viral
Cartoon in a Cartoon Graveyard
Ruminations of Maude
Teaching Shakespeare 2
Harold of Glactus
Our Balzac are Showing
No Choking Matter
Little Room
The Seminar
Grim and Fischer
[title of show]

In that list there are comedies, dramas, a burlesque show, musicals, a puppet show, solo shows, ensemble casts, shows with friends in them, touring shows, local companies, you name it... I will let you know what else as the week progresses!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Fringe a.k.a. $265.00 so far

I spent a couple hours this morning figuring out my initial Fringe Plan. This is the first one - the one that I will buy my advance tickets for which takes into account the fact that afternoon weekday shows are good for me as opposed to late night ones and which shows my friends are in and which ones I can tell I want to see based on the Program. There are many more I would go to if I didn't have to leave the site by 4:30 p.m. and not be able to return until 7:00 p.m. every weekday AND take into account that my brain can only really handle 3-4 shows a day and I am no longer good at late nights (at least not when I have to get up to take the kids to camp in the morning). In any case, I have spent $265 on tickets for 21 shows, including 2 for Pieces on the night of our anniversary for Mark and I so that we can see it and sit together guaranteed. I know, $265 sounds like a lot of cashola, but I was thinking about it... What is that? 3-4 Citadel shows? 2 Folk fest weekend passes? 8-9 shows in the regular season at the smaller theatres? It's not even 2 tickets to see Michael Buble or Josh Groban (I know, some of you are thinking Lady Gaga or U2, but hey, I am a 43 year old white woman into musical theatre - Buble and Groban are up my alley!). For $265 I get to see 20 shows - many of them new works - spread over 11 days. It is really my version of holidays. I don't get to travel very often as my ability to do so is constrained by kids and work and school. This really is my 'holiday'. So it is money well spent!

Friday, August 05, 2011

In Case This is Serious...

So today I woke up and when I got out of bed I had this sudden dizzy burst in my brain and I almost fell. I caught myself by shifting my weight towards the bed instead of the floor. It was very weird and I got up slowly after that and seemed fine. I was fine for most of the day until around 6:30 when I lay down to read and whammo it was like bed spins in my head. Since then my head feels a bit fuzzy on top and although I haven't had anymore dizzy spells, I do not feel really good in the brain. So, in case it's serious I just wanted to say I love you all. I have Tech Rehearsal for Fringe tomorrow morning first thing so I cannot be ill. That is all.