It’s been quite the journey to becoming (or realizing I’m) a Death Doula. I have had great training and resources through Hospice Toronto, continue to read and challenge myself with certifications and death education. But its been 2 years to the day since I applied for the End of Life Doula course and I keep finding meaningful moments that propel me forward on this path.
Just today I started with a new client who at the end of our phone conversation said, “Wow, this really helped, thank you for taking my call, I just really needed to talk to someone.” And sometimes it’s just that simple: being open to receiving another person’s story. Really listening and validating their experience. Other times its starting a discussion or sparking a debate on my TikTok about being a Death Doula – this time about the “tissue issue” and whether or not to give tissues to someone who is having a crying moment (as an act of mourning). And sometimes it’s me expressing my grief and end of life care journey for my loved ones through storytelling to help me process my grief journey and finding community. TikTok has been such a big part of my journey thus far!
With over 5k followers, I am finding like minded people and those who are curious about the death positive movement:
The more I do this, the more I find myself sharing stories and listening to other peoples stories and connecting through them – that’s the heart of or at least the focus of my doula practice. My training as an actor and playwright/English Minor in University has served me in ways I couldn’t foresee 20 years ago. What a neat evolution!
So looking forward to 2023, I already have a Doula To Do List! I am remaining curious and seeing where this path takes me.
When trying to explain Eldritch Theatre shows to people I tend to use the phrase “horror puppet magic show” but it’s so much more than that. But how do you explain cosmic terrors squished into an indie theatre on Queen Street? How to encapsulate the terrifyingly hilarious puppetry and magic tricks that still make me gape with wonder. How do you tell people that the jokes are perfect for sci-fi nerds, for pop-culture junkies, for DnD addicts, for Lovecraft readers and horror fans? Do you love Stranger Things? Are you okay with puppet murder? What about weird occult references that will make you giddy to hear out loud? What if you LOVE the idea of things that go bump in the night??? Eldritch Theatre’s magic is what breaking out into song is to a musical: the moment just NEEDS SOMETHING MORE. Poof! Magic (literally) is made. It’s one of the bestest best things to be a part of, to watch, to make magic with a whole room of people.
When producing for Eldritch Theatre I am wearing many hats, one of them is social media content creator. The beast that is Social Media must always be fed, and fed, and fed; but I enjoy finding different things to throw into that gigantic cavernous mouth eager for consumable content. Photos and video are so easily dismissed as “instant” (hi, Instagram, no you are not as easy as you look), I had to teach myself a lot of things over the years to catch up and stay on top of trends – learning programs, platforms, editing software, cameras and smartphones… you name it I’ve probably tried it. But what has always been great about working at Eldritch Theatre, with Eric Woolfe always saying “ya sure, go for it!” is that I fail forward and have the support of a team that is constantly rooting for me. And because of that I sometimes get to make some pretty great contributions to the cycle of a performance in ways I never really thought of when I was studying acting and performance in university/college. Case in point, production stills for shows: a challenge that pushes me right out of my safety zone. But sometimes I get something like these:
A friend of mine asked if I would be available for a student film as his collegue painted a redhead for class and he said “huh, that looks like Adrianna!” and what a neat way to be asked to come into a project… Gone Portrait is a short film that made me think of Dorian Gray. Thanks to the Creative Team: Yu Lu He, Rick Kunst, Hiên Võ
I have had such a great time creating and sharing with GhostLight! I am working on Studio Sessions as a Digital Producer behind the scenes, and recently I filled in for our regular host Charlotte Gowdy in front of the scenes… that’s not the saying but you get me.
I have been so lucky to have met and befriended EB Smith through GhostLight, and then again to have this conversation with him on Studio Sessions. I have much to learn and unpack but with people like EB who is such a superstar in compassion and patience, I know I can become a better ally. Here have a watch:
And of course loving the work I get to do with puppet savvy Eldritch Theatre manning their social media/marketing/producing. And sometimes I get to hang out with fellow puppet lover Jay Fosgitt (who actually drew me into the Henson Universe as Pebbles Fraggle!)
But I so rarely get to actually play with puppets anymore.
There has to be an answer. I have puppets ON MY WALLS to play with at any time and I just… don’t? Procrastination swirls as I get bogged down in the “but what’s the story?” or the worst part of my anxiety, “this is stupid. No one will like it but me.” But really? Who cares. Some people knit, some people take up painting… I want to PUPPET. So if you enjoy a good muppet puppet time you can see me try to get into the puppet groove on my new IG account: https://www.instagram.com/muppetpuppettime/
I want to stop overthinking it and just DO IT already, so sometimes it will just be silly playtime, maybe a fun filter, or it could actually be a full story – the point is to just PUPPET everyday, even for a minute. That’s the goal, but I know life happens and this should never be a thing to stress me out so if I miss a few days that’s going to be okay too.
I’m hoping this will be as enjoyable for those watching, and hey, if you want to be a guest and hangout with Pebbles let me know!
The cast behind my upcoming staged reading of my haunted western “Scarred Leather” all had their photos taken by me in my living room and then I set out to edit them some Deadwood portraits for their characters…
Each character is from 1847, old Upper Canada, in the wilds of the new land called home – the outback of the Western world.
I don’t think I have shared my non-secret with you… I LOVE puppets! Maybe it’s because I grew up in the golden age of puppetry with Fraggle Rock, Muppets, Mr Dressup, Mrs Rogers Neighbourhood, Sesame Street, and local favourite Today’s Special and Romper Room.
Over the years I have created with puppets as a way to get around production hurdles, mainly no one at my museums wanted to be on camera – yet I was tasked in creating content. Video has been the king of content for a while now, so I always tried to think outside the box when trying to make something on a shoestring budget of a few hours, an iphone, and a museum at my disposal.
Enter Little Red: a campaign for summer camp at Gibson House Museum. She was “mini-me” and a camp counselor helping people get excited for camps at the museum by having little adventures in the museum that were topical to the weekly theme of the camp:
And so Harry the Haggis episodes were born to explore the tradition of Hogmanay at Gibson House! Soon my museum workers were seeing the fun of content creation and I expanded my cast from fuzzy creatures and finger puppets.
It’s been a while since I created with puppets but just recently I had a resurgence of love for them with my new Fraggle, named Pebbles, commissioned by The Puppet Forge and designed by Jay P Fosgitt. I put it up on my personal page and its been viewed 700 times and people were so lovely with their comments that I was taken aback at my return to puppeting! It was a little rusty – and filming and puppeting all by oneself is HARD so it’s not the polished piece I would like it to be. But sometimes you just have to puppet dance, so that’s what I did:
I was back in love with creating with puppets! And so I brought my Eldritch Theatre monster puppet created by Eric Woolfe to one of my museums to do a silly idea…
It has about 700 views on Facebook, 11 shares, and such wonderful comments like these:
It sounds like Philbert Gilbert Dilbert needs to go on a museum adventure around our city! I’m currently researching what grants if any would support a web-series about a puppet interning at museums in the name of supernatural and history. Got any leads? I’m happy to hear them!
Some of you may know I am a suicide loss survivor, and some of you even know I am a safeTALK trainer. It would be amazing to have you at my first public workshop this November 19th for Suicide Loss Survivors Day at Red Sandcastle Theatre in Toronto.
I will be leading the workshop, and Jason Martorino, a teacher and Distress Centre volunteer with his ASIST, will be on hand to help those who may feel triggered or need a moment with someone who has crisis intervention training.
This workshop is for those who want to help those around them by being alert to signs of suicidal ideation, and want to learn how best to help those who need resources to help them stay alive. I like to think of it as suicide prevention first aid: you are the first responder, and you will help keep them alive until you can connect them to a resource that will help keep them alive.
My talented friend Ryan Fisher of Rainyfresh Photography let me check a bucket list item off my list: being a historic cowgirl. I have always loved Calamity Jane (from Deadwood was an amazing interpretation!) and Back to the Future 3 – heck I live my life in the times of the Gold Rush, but I’m stuck in Toronto 1850s not the Klondike! My costume in this photo-shoot was inspired by Calamity’s classic look from her 1880’s portrait, too. I have been training to be her with stage combat, whip work, gun work, and of course horseback riding.
My friend Phil from Stageworthy Podcast wrote this when he saw the Rainyfresh edit of the photos:
“Red Anna. Some’ll tell you that her hair wasn’t always red. That it turned blood red from the entrails of the men she killed. Others say that it’s red because it was touched by the flames of hell. Still others say that its the dark mark upon her, placed there for some sin too dark to mention. What the truth is, none can say. But she’s earned each and every tale that’s told about her, and more.”
So here is Calamity Jane’s 1880 portrait I used to inspire my costume that I put together myself:
I can’t help but gush about this great moment in my geeky life: I am now a Fraggle at Fraggle Rock and part of the Jim Henson universe!!
Did you watch this amazing (Canadian?!) muppet puppet show?! It was one of my very favouritest as a child and it fills me with great joy to be a part of this universe as Pebbles Fraggle:
My nickname is Pebbles, as in Flintstone since birth from my Dad, in fact my little brother Luke didn’t know my real name was Adrianna until he was about 6 years old as he always just called me Pebs. They still do today ❤ so when Jay Fosgitt who is SUPER AMAZING and asked if he could make me into a Fraggle in his Fraggle Rock Comic book debut I was over the moon! Of course she would have big red hair but… Red is already a beloved Fraggle so the name was taken. Enter my nickname: meet my Fraggle doppelgänger Pebbles from Fraggle Rock! I am so excited to have my copy and one day I will have her as a real muppet puppet too.
Thank you Jay for making this little redhead’s dream come true!