Showing posts from 2011

The Ubiquitous End of Year Post... My Year in Review

2011 Here it goes. For more detail, of course, you can flip through the whole Blog, but I know that I wrote more sparsely at different times of the year and sometimes my writing was motivated more by the emotional state of my life than the actual events. So a look back seems to bring out the significance in what happened this year. Theatrical Events: It was busy in 2011. The first half of the year I wrapped up my tenure as AD of Walterdale. I started the season knee-deep in Rabbit Hole and I think that will always be one of the most satisfying directorial experiences of my life. I had challenges that fed my personal needs. I had a terrific cast, production team and crew. I had to make some tough decisions. I had a script that I really wanted to serve and I think I did that. I also complicated my life by overlapping rehearsals for that show with The Threepenny Opera . I enjoyed doing that show. It too had elements that really made me work. The music in that show was some of the most ch

Goodbye Smeep...

This past week we said goodbye to Smeep. She had a rough go of it the last 8-10 months. She was diagnosed with diabetes in late March/early April. We thought it was a urinary tract infection but it was a little more than that. We struggled at first with what turned out to be an over-prescription of insulin which led to 2 diabetic comas. When she had the second one she flat-lined at the vets. It was pretty bad. We got her level, but to be honest, we struggled with the routine of it. I lost confidence in my vet because of the insulin comas and after a pretty calm summer she declined again this Fall. We had Smeep for 12 years and she came into our family at a time when I was sad about some other things and she was truly my cat in many ways. She was a wonderful cat, never afraid to offer her belly up for a rub when a stranger came in the house. This December Smeep was featured in Today's Parent magazine (you can check the article out on page 64). I think she waited for her fame and the

A week in which I see two productions which use good strategies to overcome flawed scripts...

I wrapped up the term this past week and took advantage of the 'free-ness' to take in Wyrd Sisters at Walterdale and Fuddy Meers at the U of A. Both of these evenings were enjoyable but left me thinking. I find it's hard for me not to get somewhat analytical when watching theatre, no matter how hard I try to just be there in the audience. I painted the set for Wyrd Sisters , but auditions for New Works and other commitments made it difficult for me to get to the show earlier in the run. I had read the play previously and knew it to be a good fit for Walterdale. That said, the script is somewhat flawed. I think, if you are a Pratchett aficionado you definitely would have less issues with the script that I did (in the same way as someone who has read The Pelican Brief can follow the movie better than someone who hasn't). So the first act has a lot of exposition that I worked hard to follow. That is all mixed up with Shakespearean references and a definite British humou

On Membership...

I am writing this post here instead of the Walterdale Blog because the following is my own thoughts on membership fees and although I believe it is in line with the official Walterdale policy, it is not coming from that organization. It is how I feel. At a recent meeting we had a lengthy discussion about membership fees at Walterdale. It came out of wanting to have a consistent message going to our members about what that fee is for and what they would get out of it. The consistency in message is, I think, very important as there is miscommunication about the why of membership fees in the first place. I like that. It's good. Everyone gets the same message. When I was AD, I attended the auditions and would give a little speech about the membership fee and what that gave and that everyone who was cast would be expected to get a membership. This came out of the fact that the first time I directed at Walterdale I had two cast members ask about getting paid after they were cast. I helpe

Another Busy Week... Auditions, a Final Exam, 2 BBall games and a Funeral...

This week has been jam packed for me. The top end of the week has three nights of auditions for New Works. I am directing the lovely Bevin Dooley's script, The Playmates. Four directors settled down to watch 74 auditioners over three evenings. We saw so many good actors. At the end I had 11 possibilities for Clare, 8 possibilities for Rose and 4 possibilities for Edmund. It came down to schedules and who I thought would fit together best, but I think I have a nice solid cast (If I don't, after 74 auditioners I only have myself to blame!). The morning after auditions I went in early to have a final rehearsal with my group for my Drama 257 Final Presentation. It went well. We made some good choices in cutting the script to made the scene arc stronger and I felt good about my performance and the whole group's work. I think I did well. Oliver had an added basketball practice on Thursday and then a game on Friday night and one first thing Saturday morning. Both games were tight

Seeing As Much As I Can... Missing too many, still...

Tonight I am heading out to Spruce Grove to catch Horizon Player's Ordinary People. The other half of Finally Sauces is in this one and I am excited to see her work. I like to see what other directors get out of the actors I work with because then it pushes me to get more out of them (since I see what they can do!). Last week I caught two very different shows, This is What Happens Next (Citadel) and Howl ! (ABBEDAM). Both were very well done and very different. I loved the MacIvor show. The first 10 minutes I wasn't sure what it was going to be but then all of a sudden BAM! I was in. The last 10 minutes were so beautiful I got all teary eyed. Lovely, lovely performance and script. It runs for another week so I would highly advise catching it if you can! Howl! was a dramatization of Alan Ginsburg's poem. It was very well done, with phenomenal movement and attack. It is over now - it was the ABBEDAM show at the University and only had 4 shows. I saw both shows in the sam

Dear Parents and Care-Givers of Dunluce School

Re: Traffic Issues – Dunluce School 2011-2012 School Year I have been growing more and more upset by the way parents and caregivers have been behaving when they come to pick up their children after school this year. I have never seen it this bad and I have been picking my kids up after school for the last 4 ½ years (I did take one year off where they rode the bus – so 3 ½ of the last 4 ½ years). I have observed rampant jaywalking, with and without children, often done by darting out between parked cars (when visibility is poor) or by making oncoming traffic stop. Remember, because of where the crosswalks are located this means people had less than ½ a block to walk to a marked crosswalk no matter where they were. So not only are these people acting unsafe and illegal, but they are also lazy. The driving and parking habits that I have observed also concern me. Every single day there are people parking in the no parking areas surrounding the crosswalk. I fear for the crossing guards

And then the snow came...

Funny how the weather can change your perspective on the week. It looked busy on the page but then the snow came and made everything more challenging! It's swirling around out there and that's what the week felt like! Sunday Night I started off the week with a bang! Caught The Rocky Horror Show at the Citadel and had a BLAST! It's not my favorite show, because it's hard to do 'right', but they certainly did it up proper! I love Camp when it's done well and everyone was on top of their Camp Game! To do the show you can't show fear, you can't apologize for it's ridiculous, you just go for it and they certainly did. It was enhanced with the controlled audience participation. Just enough to keep us all in the game but not too much that it got annoying. We could get up and Time Warp and sit back down for the show (everyone was so well behaved - but having fun!). There were a few people who really know the shout-outs and they kept it up in just the ri

This is What Happens Next... I spend a day with Daniel MacIvor...

Last weekend I journeyed south to Calgary for Playworks Ink (you can read about that weekend in my previous post). The whole weekend was wonderful, but Saturday I got to spend the day with Daniel MacIvor and that was indeed a great day for me. There were a lot of other people there, but still, it was good. Who is Daniel MacIvor? Well, if you know anything about Canadian Theatre - you know. He is one of the most prolific and most successful Canadian theatre playwrights we have. "We" - it's nice to have ownership of him, isn't it? His plays vary from multi-cast pieces like Marion Bridge , A Beautiful View and This is a Play to his solo-shows like Monster , Cul-de-sac and his upcoming This is What Happens Next . The day played out as follows: The Session - Play Finding Eleven of us were lucky enough to take this session with Daniel. We walk into the room and meet Daniel and Buddy, Daniel's incredibly well-behaved and occasionally focus-stealing dog. First, each

Recharging the Creative Battery - Playworks Ink

This past weekend I had the wonderful experience of partaking in Playworks Ink, a drama conference with a particular focus on playwrighting as well as other theatre related skills. There were sessions directly related to playwrighting as well as movement, breath control, directing, and (from what I heard) a phenomenal workshop where you could learn the Catalyst Theatre process from the inside. This conference is run by Theatre Alberta and Alberta Playwright's Network and they managed to bring in world-class instructors who worked with the many participants of backgrounds ranging from enthusiasts, to drama educators, to emerging professionals to full-fledged professionals. I cannot speak to anyone else's experience but mine was fantastic and everything I needed to get me recharged. My first session was with Karen Hines and in a jam-packed session on Friday afternoon I discovered 2 major things that will help me with my in-process script Girls in White Dresses . The activiti

Cowardly Kiss Theatre Presents Night Time - No Cowards Here!

I took some time to chat via email with Andrea Beca about Cowardly Kiss Productions, Night Time and what is on the horizon for this company in Edmonton. I am always excited when people commit to what they believe in and take risks while enriching Edmonton's theatrical community so the announcement about an entire season from this company was welcome news for me. Andrea, you are the Artistic Director of Cowardly Kiss Productions. I have seen a few of your shows at Fringes and last year's Bunburying in the regular theatre season. Can you give us a bit of background on yourself and the company and what you have done in the past? Sure! I've been writing my whole life, from my own "radio" show when I was in grade 1 ( my mum still has the tapes I recorded - good lord!) to novels in elementary school. I started writing plays seriously when I was around 16, which was also the first year I got involved with Nextfest at Theatre Network. Everything sort of snowballed from

The Snow Globe Festival - Filling the need for Quality Children's Theatre in Edmonton in the Winter Months

Recently I noticed a lot of buzz on Twitter and Facebook about a new theatre festival for children happening this winter. The Festival was called The Snow Globe Festival and was running the week prior to the Christmas holidays in the Avenue Theatre. As a mother of 2 elementary school aged children I have long wished for more theatre programming throughout the year. I get my kids out to the Fringe and have occasionally been able to take them to productions at FTA, The Citadel and Concrete Theatre, but have always wanted more choices for them. And, as they age, I have discovered that I need more variety and options for them. This Snow Globe Festival seemed right up our alley. I took a little time to ask the festival's creator, Ellen Chorley, some questions. W hat is the Snow Globe Festival? Who does is serve and why did you think it would be a good idea for Edmonton and the 118th Avenue area? T he Snow Globe Festival of Children’s Theatre is a new Edmonton Festival created

A Great Opportunity for Edmonton Playwrights of All Levels...

Alberta Playwrights’ Network is proud to announce the start of the: Edmonton Playwrights’ Gym Want a creative workout? Want to kick-start for a new project? Or maybe you’d like to take a chance and try some new approaches to your writing process? Playwrights’ Gym is unique opportunity for playwrights to exercise their crafts via a series of in-class and take-home writing exercises, weekly discussions and sessions with senior Canadian playwrights and dramaturgs. Topics and writing assignments will give participants creative workouts in crafting dialogue, building characters, using structure, driving dramatic action, unlocking intuition and editing. There will be homework each week, sharing, and timed exercises in each class. Playwrights are encouraged to work on a new short piece or use the class to enhance something they are already working on, but this is not necessary. Playwrights at all levels as invited to participate. Classes will be convened by Director/ Dramaturg Heather Ingli

Busy Week - then I get serious about writing!!!!

This Friday I will be onstage for the Drama 483 scene I am in. I am enjoying the people I am working with and my director is positive and organized. We run too much, but that's my knees talking. Oliver has an additional basketball practice tonight to help get the team in better shape before Saturday's game. I have dress rehearsal for my midterm Drama 257 presentation tomorrow and I have to get a handle on it. I am doing it okay, but I want to be far more 'in' than I feel. I also have this tiny monologue that is kicking my butt for some bizarre reason. Once this week is over I shall have some breathing room. Hopefully I will no longer be sick (it's hanging on - grrr) and I will get to writing. At least that's the plan. In the view of my lack of focus recently I am trying to figure out where I want to go. If I am honest with myself it is the writing. However, I do enjoy the acting and directing, as well, and feel that those things enrich my writing, but the time t

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

The last few weeks have felt very strange to me. I have been sick, that hasn't helped, but I have also been in a weird kind of funk about what my focus is right now. Because the last two years I had a purpose and artistic vision through Walterdale, now that my term as AD is complete I am realizing I need to find that same kind of purpose for my own life, but I am not sure how. I know I need to really focus on my writing, but I am not spending the time I should on that. There are other personal things I need to be doing with regards to my health, but I am not spending the time I should on that, either ( being sick has not helped there ). I feel stretched thin with my kids - trying to encourage them and help them and get them to practices and the like, but I feel like I am not doing that well. I must admit a bit of regret for the basketball because its irregularity upsets my sense of planning and scheduling, but I see it's potential for good things for both my boys. I do regret t

Theatre as Writing Workshop

Tonight I took in Michel and Ti-Jean at Theatre Network. It was a very well-executed production of George Rideout's play with a gorgeous set, pitch-perfect soundscape and phenomenal acting. The script itself doesn't follow a traditional arc - it's an imaginary meeting between Michel Tremblay and Jack Kerouac - but instead becomes a very cool formula for a lesson in storytelling. I have to recommend this for any writer. I have to. It still has my brain buzzing with ideas about storytelling and character. There's more to it than that. The analysis of Les Belles Souers is the absolute best and should be required viewing for anyone taking a Canadian theatre course. Brian Dooley as Kerouac and Vincent Hoss-Demarais as Tremblay are exceptional actors and have true chemistry together onstage. I feel lucky to live in this city. I have seen so much good theatre this season and it is only the second week of October!

Thinking about the Ugly in people...

Last night I went to the Opening Night of Reasons to be Pretty by Neil LaBute at Walterdale Theatre. Overall the show was done as you should do any LaBute show - out there, unapologetic and not hiding the ugly side of human nature, but this is not a review. This is more a discussion of the content of the play and other works by LaBute. This is the second LaBute show I have seen - the other one was a poorly directed, but generally well-acted production of The Shape of Things that I saw a few years ago. I really have a hard time with his work. I know there are people who love his stuff. They love delving into the more despicable aspects of human nature. I just have a hard time with it all. I always leave thinking 'are people really like that? ' I hope not. I know there are people out there who have baser, more selfish, and more superficial reasons for doing what they do, but I guess I have a hard time going through life thinking about people that way. I try to be positive and h

Making Connections...

One of the things that I loved about being the AD at Walterdale was that I often got requests from people to help them find someone for their project. Walterdale has a diverse membership and often has people of ages and demographics that are useful. I liked searching through the membership and connecting the right people to the right opportunity. Sometimes this took a bit of time, but usually if someone explained what they needed I could think of a few people to suggest to them. Despite no longer having that position, I was pleased this week to be able to continue with that and I think I might have connected a very talented person that I met through Walterdale with a fabulous opportunity (maybe even two opportunities). This is exciting for me. I like getting talented people to the right places. It was a good thing. I hope I can continue to do things like this! In other connections news, today I met with the Playwright and Dramaturge that I will be working with for New Works at the Uni

So Much for a Lull...

Well, I have been saying that there is a lull in my theatre life between September and April ( basically between A Little Night Music and Nine ), however, I have managed to fill some of that time up this week. In addition to working a couple of casinos (Shadow Theatre and Theatre Yes) I also auditioned for the Drama 483 midterms and was cast in one of them, as well, I interviewed for and received an offer to direct for New Works at the U of A. The 483 scene is for the play Mrs. Packard . I do not know which role I will be playing at this point. I will find out Sunday. And the New Works script is also a mystery. I have my fingers crossed for one in particular but will be happy to work on whatever they want me to! I am excited. I think I should pause now before auditioning for anything else. At this point the time is filling up. Since I am also Master Painter for Wyrd Sisters at Walterdale I am running out of free time. But it is parcelled out nicely. I also wanted to mentioned I am

Is This Going to Be the Year of the Citadel for me?

Due to a happy circumstance I once again was able to see a show at The Citadel last night. This time it was a Preview for Death of a Salesman on the Shoctor Stage. A few years ago I saw a very well done production of this play so I wasn't sure how I was going to receive it. It is always hard to judge when you have seen and enjoyed a piece before. However, this production was everything it should be. Although Tom Wood, as Willie Loman, was clearly the anchor for it, it was a true ensemble, with stand-out performances from Wood, John Ullyat (Biff Loman), Brenda Bazinet (Linda Loman) and Tim Campbell (Happy Loman). But that's not really even fair. Not one actor onstage felt miscast or lazy. I could list them all, really, it is really that the core of the play is the family itself. I will admit, I am a bit of an Arthur Miller fan, however, I had a couple friends tell me at intermission and after the show how much they had hated the play when they studied it in high school and how

Taking My Theatre Volunteering Out of the Walterdale...

This season is going to be interesting... that's what I keep telling myself. I already feel the lull between projects. This is something I hadn't felt for the last 2 1/2 years because there was always something to do with Walterdale . Even if I didn't have an active project on the go I often needed to be helping in coordinating upcoming events and helping others to fill out their teams. There was little down time. I liked that. But this season will be different. Night Music wrapped up and my class at the U of A was on the go - so there was that. I threw in an audition (which I will admit was not up to my best - too tired from Night Music at the time and woefully unprepared). I also signed up for Shadow Theatre's casino and for working FOH for NLT's first show of the season, Heroine . After all, there are many theatres in the city who benefit from volunteers and, hey, I got the time. The Casino was fun. Worked a shift with a couple of friends and some other nice p

Penny Plain - EXTRAORDINARY Theatrical Experience

I was lucky enough to catch a Preview of Ronnie Burkett's Penny Plain this past Sunday at The Citadel. What a fabulous show! Yes, it's all marionettes (wait, there were a couple of hand puppets in there too), but it was a fascinating story of a distopian future all told by Ronnie Burkett through many characters. I thought I would be distracted by the puppets, I was not - I was so in I often could have sworn there were tiny little people inside each of them. The mannerisms were subtle and individual and the story itself, although dark, was compelling. You wanted to know what was going to happen. You were shocked and entranced by the changes in the characters. You cared about them. It was more than just a play in so many ways. Just the fact that one person was creating the voices and characterization for all the characters and you totally believed them, was pretty cool - but the seemingly effortlessness of the movement was brilliant. There were a few exceptions of Preview night

New Educational Journey Has Begun!

Today was class three of my Fall course, Drama 257 . I was a little leery (as usual) at the beginning, but I am really enjoying it. The 'kids' are nice and I like the style of our instructor, Donna Marie, and I think that I can get something out of it. I always worry about those things when I take classes at the Uni now. Being that I am 20 or more years older than most (read: all) the other kids in class and I might even be older than the instructor, I tend to worry about how I will fit into the dynamic. However, this group of students seem to like me and accept me as one of them (whew!) not just 'the old lady' in the class. The first two Projects that we presented I think demonstrated that I am not just a dilettante, but that I am serious about this and that I have something to offer. I am anxious for script work. I understand the vocabulary of intention and specificity and choice and being present, so I want to apply that to some script work. I am curious as to who I