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Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Manicure is Wasted on Me... I'm painting a set...

I have been spending the last few weeks painting the set for The Weir at Walterdale Playhouse. This has been a terrific challenge for me.  I have designed a set before and painted it (Village of Idiots), I have been Master Painter before for another designer (Wyrd Sisters) and I have painted on many other sets, usually under the umbrella of a Master Painter, but sometimes I have been pretty much in charge (Nine), but this set really took it up a notch for me.  When Director, Anne Marie Szucs, was putting together her team back in the late spring she asked me if I wanted to be on it.  When Jim Herchak stepped forward as Set Designer I knew that the best place for me would be Master Painter since I know that Jim doesn't paint. It's also a tough position to fill since there are few people who want to take on the responsibility or feel they have the expertise to do it (many paint, but few will master paint...). Also, I figured it would be a good challenge.

The set has certainly proven to be so.  I like it, don't get me wrong, but there are a lot of surfaces and it is, for the most part, a realistic set.  Village was not realistic, and neither were Wyrd Sisters or Nine.  When the set is abstract, you can play with the textures to a large degree.  When it's 'real' you have to make it work.  I have learned a lot.  It's been tough.  My painting mentor, Joan Hawkins, is out of town so I had to mine my memory and experiment a bit to get what I wanted.  I did use a lot of the things she taught me.  The first attempts were not as successful as the later work, but the beauty of paint is that layers will save you.  It was also interesting because I had no reference for colours or textures on the model.  Jim trusted me to figure that out and that has been interesting. I have a few more things to finish up, but I am about 93% there.  I have spent about 40 hours on the deck working so far (more at home on the computer searching for reference images) and I probably have about 6 - 10 more next week to finish up the little details.  It's tough for me because I generally have to work one day and rest one day because of the strain on my back (it doesn't seem to like it when I paint the floor...).  I have had some wonderful help (Thanks Julie, Jenelle, Kent, Elinor and Ruby!) and I have learned a lot.  When I look at it I am really quite proud of what I have done so far.  I hope that I can make the rest of it match what is in my head.

I encourage you to stop by the Walterdale Open House or AGM this Saturday and check it out in person, or better yet, come at see the show in a couple of weeks! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Citadel Theatre - Off to a Great Start this Season with A Few Good Men...

This weekend was a great weekend for using my Vue Weekly Ticket prize pack.  I sent Oliver and Mark off to see Joel Plaskett at The Arden on Saturday night and then I took my mother to see A Few Good Men at The Citadel Theatre on Sunday night. The boys quite enjoyed their night of music, buying CDs and getting them autographed and the boys have been listening to the opening act, Mo Kenney, as we drive home from school each day.  They each have a favorite song and we bounce back and forth between track 3 and 8 as many times as we can before we reach home.

Both my mother and I were quite impressed with A Few Good Men.  It was a tightly run ship - quickly paced, which I love and which I felt the script calls for, and committed performances.  I found the direction the outstanding part of the show.  The script, with it's quick cuts and film like dialogue, is not easy to stage but Director James MacDonald keeps it moving and the use of the revolve is clean and sharp.  I really liked the use of the marching chants to move from scene to scene.  It kept you in the world of the military - the world of the one-mind/following orders/doing duty. I felt the piece was very strong for it's sense of ensemble and this too supported the over-arching theme of the play - If there is one weak link the whole thing would crumble, but there isn't - it is military precision with each unit following their orders without fail. It's hard to attack a play like this where 90% of your audience has seen the film and knows the lines (You can't handle the truth!) and there is the inevitable comparison.  I was happy that I was able to immerse myself in this particular telling of the story.  Sure, I had moments where I was thinking: "Who played that character? Oh, yeah, Kevin Bacon.  Oh yeah, Kiefer Sutherland.", but it was more of my brain being jogged by memory than being separated from the show.  In fact, seeing these different actors speak the words in their own voices made me understand the weight of what was going on even better.  There are a few tiny missteps - one sound cue that made everyone between the ages of 40 and 50 giggle, and a titch too much yelling when you wished for some subtlety, but the latter served the masculine nature of the subject and the former happens at a moment where no major damage is done. The key moment of realization at the end brought tears to my eyes and the authenticity of that moment was perfect.

Afterwards my mother and I talked for quite some time about the nature of living in that military world and how it must be to live in a world where you must follow orders without question.  It was thought provoking even though both of us had seen the film many times before.  Still relevant today - perhaps even more so.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rum, Shakespeare and Fun! Argghhh!

Sherbrooke Liquor Presents
Ron Sherbrooke's 2nd Annual Talk Like a Pirate Rum Festival
September 19, 2012
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
All proceeds to benefit Free Will Players Theatre Guild

Come down to the Tucker Amphitheatre at the Citadel Theatre and enjoy a rum tasting
Entry Ticket Prices *
$25 + service charge
*tastings not included with entry ticket price

Tickets available at the Citadel Theatre Box Office, 9828 101A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3C6
or by phone 780-425-1820

Meet Captain Morgan, enjoy fabulous food, drink some rum, and enter to win fabulous prizes! Contests include a treasure hunt, best pirate costume (male and female) and best "Talk like a Pirate"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cavalia - How Circus should be done - in Style!

I took Oliver to Cavalia for opening night last week.  It's strange, because just a few months earlier was the first time I heard about Cavalia and it wasn't because I heard they were coming to town. It was from a friend who had seen it in Quebec last summer.  She showed me the program and raved about it. Later that week I heard that it was coming to Edmonton, so it seemed fitting that we should go. Based on her description I expected something like Cirque du Soleil but with horses and I thought Oliver was the right kid to take (especially since it was a school night and Gibson had gone to Mary Poppins). I think I made the right choice as Oliver seemed very happy to be there and I think some of the more sophisticated sections would have gone over Gibson's head.

It was really quite wonderful to watch.  Not a traditional play with a story, but a series of vignettes which demonstrate acrobatics, horse skills or a combination of both.  It's gorgeous and filled with sensory stimulation. It's definitely a complete package - acrobatics that make you gasp, horses doing tricks that leave you stunned, gorgeous sets that move and evolve like magic, falling leaves, rich music and costumes and a 'snowfall' that makes you laugh with joy.  It is truly how circus should be done - there is popcorn, candy and pop - but none of the dust and a level of luxury to the show that raises it to a new level. It's 100% spectacle - and although the ads I have heard for it talk of a story about horses and man through the ages, I found it hard to find that in it - but there were so many moments that made me catch my breath and Oliver was totally enthralled.  He wanted to buy the DVD so that we could bring it home to show Gibson, but alas they were sold out.

It's not something that we are likely to see very often as the tickets are on the upper end when it comes to price, but you can see where the money goes in the show as the level of production is very high and not a element seems wrong or skimped on.  Events like these are easily once in a lifetime kinds of shows.

#43 in my 2012 Theatre Goal

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Evening with The Queen... Mary, Queen of Scots, that is...

This weekend I was happy to take in The Passion of Mary at Theatre Network.  I always love to see new works by local playwrights and as this is the first show I have seen written by Annette Loiselle (from her bio I even think it might be her first) I was quite impressed by her voice.  It must be challenging to be both playwright and lead actress of a play. Loiselle handles both those challenges well.  She had a great team to work with as Bretta Gereke's set is so cool and Glenda Stirling's direction is really tight and magical.  Sian Williams, who shares the stage with Loiselle in a variety of roles, shifts effortlessly from accent to accent and body to body. I loved the way she seemed to appear and disappear - that was the magic part.

I like plays like this that make me think.  This certainly challenged what I thought about Mary, Queen of Scots, but to be fair, I mostly know about her from the Phillipa Gregory books and Gregory's Mary is quite a bit different than Loiselle's.  It was interesting to think about Mary as a person, as opposed to a political figure.  Of course, as soon as I get home I had to google her and spent about an hour looking up stuff on Wikipedia.  But I like that.  I like a show that sticks with me and pushes me further. My companion and I did have a wee chat about the accents, as Mary does not have one.  We figured the choice to not have a defined regional accent was for two reasons - first, what accent to use since Mary was raised in France but many might expect Scottish, but then what would that sound like; second, to make Mary more humanized, as this was a personal story not a historical one, the lack of regional accent made you connect more with the person.  At least, that's what we decided.  I don't know if that's why they made that choice.

Anyhow, it's a good show.  If you like that period, or if you like well-directed and well-designed shows with two strong female actors, or if you enjoy seeing new work, or if you like to be challenged... lots of reasons to check it out.

* Photo by Marc J Chalifoux Photography

* This marks show #42 of my 2012 Theatre Goal

Friday, September 07, 2012

Theatre for a Good Cause...

Theatre Network opens The Passion of Mary this week as part of their performance series.  I wrote a bit about the show earlier when I went to the launch of Skirts Afire a few months back. As part of this run there are a couple of special nights that will also support some good works.  The first is tonight (FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 7, 2012) and if you go to the show tonight and 20% of your ticket will be donated to the One Thousand Women, A Million Possibilities campaign. Tomorrow (SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2012)20% of your ticket will be donated to SkirtsAfire, herArts Festival. So, not only will you be seeing a brand new work by local playwright, Annette Loiselle, but you will also be able to support a couple of good causes!

The Passion of Mary

by Annette Loiselle

Mary Queen of Scots is caught in an act of treason which may force Elizabeth to finally execute her. Alone in her prison, during imagined red wine sessions with Elizabeth, as the scaffold is being built, she re-lives significant episodes with her husbands, Darnley and Bothwell, her son James, her friend Riccio and the births of her babies. She sets out to prove she is not a murderer, but a woman of passion and a leader of vision. But Mary needs redemption not just for the sins she has been accused of, but the sin she has never confessed…. until now.

Starring: Annette Loiselle and Sian Williams • Director: Glenda Stirling • Set/Costume/Lighting Design: Bretta Gerecke • Original Composition of Musical Score: Binaifer Kapadia • Sound Design: Paul Morgan Donald • Production Stage Manager: Gina Puntil • Publicity/Marketing: Lana Michelle Hughes

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Classes Begin - Familiar Faces with Theatre History!

The kids got back to school yesterday, but I didn't go back until today.  I am taking Drama 308 (The Modernist Stage) this semester and I think it is going to be a good adventure.  We are starting with Ibsen and I am 1/3 of the way through The Wild Duck.  I am familiar with the plot as I had to look it up when doing A Little Night Music (my character made a reference to it) so as I read the play it feels very deja vu. It was great to see so many familiar faces from all of my 4 previous years in the U of A Drama Department.  I have staked out the front row with Gil (just like 208/209) and we were joined by Harley from my 257 class.  I like the tone of the Prof. and the class itself promises to be good.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Away and Back Home Again...

What a great trip!  I am home now, after a long day of travelling, but it was indeed a great first time to New York City.  The first day I was a little nervous, but after negotiating the subway and walking around Times Square and Lincoln Centre and taking cabs I felt pretty good about getting around.  My friend Julie was great to travel with as she is pretty laid back and both of us were happy just to see what we could instead of seeing everything so that made it nice.

We saw Warhorse, Nice Work if You Can Get It, and Peter and the Starcatcher.  We used the TKTS system and paid half price for all of them.  I highly recommend.  The nice thing about not having been there before is that I hadn't seen anything so it made finding shows I wanted to see pretty easy.  I went knowing that I really wanted to see Warhorse, so I did.  Julie loves Gershwin so Nice Work was her top pick, so we saw that.  Peter and the Starcatcher was on the list and available for the matinee so we grabbed that one.  All three were fabulous choices.  I think Peter and the Starcatcher was my favorite, because it caught me off guard and the ensemble was so incredibly tight and hilarious, but all of them were fabulous for different reasons.  A great weekend of theatre! 

Saturday was the wedding - the primary purpose for the trip - and it was wonderful.  I love weddings - primarily the ceremony - and even more so when I feel like the people getting married totally belong together. This was certainly the case on Saturday.  Mark and Joyce are a lovely and loving couple and the wedding was so perfectly them.  The location was this beautiful, unique art space in Brooklyn Park.  They both were so happy and joyful.  It was great.

I will no doubt write more as I reflect on it, but suffice it to say - I had a great time!

* These three shows mark 39, 40, and 41 of my 2012 Theatre Goal - Goal Achieved!  Let's see how high I can go!