Rebellious Women: Remount!

Rebellious Women: Remount!

Next year, our great nation will be celebrating 150 years of Canadian history and culture! Now the history nerd in me is going nuts with all the great programming that I know is coming to the museums I work at – but also that I will be in an episode of Canada: The Story of Us on the CBC is exciting!

PLUS: it has been confirmed that my one-woman play about Mrs. Gibson and the women of the Upper Canada Rebellion will be remounted at Gibson House Museum in August!

I’m stoked to look back at this play I wrote back in… oh man, 2010?! Dust it off and send it back into rehearsal/the parlour. It is a site specific piece that tells the woman’s side of what happened in December of 1837…

Rebellious Women: Teasoons Raised
Rebellious Women: Teaspoons Raised

 

“November 1851: In the front parlour of Mrs. Gibson’s newly built home in Willow Dale, a table is set with cake and tea. Mrs. Gibson and her guests: Mrs. Cummer and Mrs. Sheppard, have gathered. Gibson House hosts the three unique women of Willow Dale whose lives were touched by the events of the 1837 Rebellion. Based on letters and journals, discover history through the perspective of the wives, daughters, and mothers of those men who fought for change on Yonge Street.”

 

 

 

More updates on tickets and specifics to come!

Sonnet Show!

I am one of the playwrights for the Humber River Shakespeare Co. Sonnet Show this coming May 24th. I get 14 days to write 14 minutes based on 14 lines of Shakespeare (aka a sonnet)

I got sonnet 75:

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-season’d showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then better’d that the world may see my pleasure:
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starved for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

And I have 3 Women actors and 2 Male actors… guess which room I got at the museum? The kitchen!!!

Montgomerys Inn4  View from the Tavern into the KitchenMontgomerys Inn 3  The view from the “back door” Montgomerys Inn 2  Into the PantryMontgomerys Inn 1  The repro dishes I can use!Montgomerys Inn The hearth!

I also work here from time to time as I am a historical interpreter. This is an Irish household that had a tavern and inn along with some farming in the mid 1800’s. It has been restored to the year 1847 (right when the Irish Potato Famine is in full swing!)

I want to write something about food and love. I want the audience to experience food. I want the actors to be servers and cook food… Will I get my wish?! Here’s hoping – and off to the proverbial drawing board (aka my lap top)!

 

The good, the sad, and the ugly

First the sad news:

Secret Lives of Lovers has been put on hold indefinitely. Yes, the movie where I was playing Grace, the dancer alcoholic, is pretty much done at this point. We got two days on set – I did my tango which took a lot from me as I have never had to be something I’m not. I know, I know that sounds silly – I’m an actor – I clearly am not Lady Macbeth or a lesbian from Montreal (both great roles I had such fun playing in the past) – but this was a talent I couldn’t fake. I had to ACTUALLY dance. And I loved the challenge. It opened my heart and mind to a new me: one that just says yes even when severe doubt persisted. So I thank Five Strangers Films for that experience. And I hope someday soon to be Grace and get to finish creating her with the wonderful people involved in that production.

The good news – I’m researching my new play about love: why we keep it and why we discard it. But the catch, because I’m trying to stay away from writing a rom-com; is that I want to find science to back me up. There are several thoughts on why and how we love – like this gem that my friend Val showed me is Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love which defines different relationships. Fascinating! So this is my mind-set. It is a really slow process as I am still heart-broken about the movie being shut down.  But if you have any ideas on love, preferably something like this TED Talk then please pass it on!

And lastly – my play Everything But the Cat… is having it’s first staged public reading at Alumnae on March 23rd at 12 noon for a pwyc audience. I am terrified and excited. I hope to see you there 🙂

A little about me – for The New Ideas Festival

Hello! Thanks for stopping by to read a little about me and why I wrote “Everything But the Cat…”

andrewsmokebreakI wrote the play in response to my brother’s suicide. It is the first year of bereavement and what I did to cope. I really wanted this to be through the filter of one person – because every person has a unique story, their story. My play is not a recount of my brother’s life,  nor is it about how he died. It’s about how the death of someone, a family member specifically, shakes you and takes you hostage to your darkest self. This self-quake shakes everything you know and love, and for me, for this story, it made things crumble apart and I was left to pick up the pieces.

I adore the works of Daniel MacIvor and Sandra Shamas – the solo show masters in my eyes. The comedy within the solo show, and the honesty that one can achieve with this “confessional theatre” is fascinating to me. I want that. I wanted this to be an insight into a year of bereavement for someone you could relate to, someone you see on the subway crying into her iPod and wonder if you should say something. That person you see fuming with rage because her plastic lid for her coffee cup won’t fit – clearly the rage it isn’t just about that lid. Jump into those heavy and sad shoes of that person and see that there is still love, hope, and joy that is just itching to come out. It just can’t right now. It’s caught beneath something heavy called mourning.

I’m also an actor here in Toronto. I am working on an Indie Feature with Marc Morgenstern and Five Stranger Films called “Secret Lives of Lovers” which just began shooting. I adore doing voice work and I’m looking forward to working with Cardiac Game Studio on “The Princess of Nothing” video game this year too! Who doesn’t like pretending to be a kick-ass viking princess with an axe?!

So I hope you can come out on March 23rd at 12 noon to Alumnae Studio Theatre, and I hope you can stay after and chat with me and my team of “Everything But the Cat…” during the Q&A to follow.

Thanks!

Next Big Thing: Writer’s Interview

A writer friend, Chloe Whitehorn, tagged me in her writer’s “interview” that will be shared with other writers all over the web! Here are my answers:

What is your working title of your play? It’s called “Everything But The Cat…”

Where did the idea come from for the play? As an actor and sometimes playwright for the City of Toronto Museums – the most natural way to express my grief for the passing of my brother in 2010 was to write a play about it. The play is not just about death, but more about the topic of loss. Who we lose, what we lose – this can be relationships, the death of a loved one (or stranger), items that we hold dear – everything can be precious. Even your cat 😉

What genre does your play fall under? I would say Dramedy in the form of a Not-So-One-Woman-Show

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  I would cast myself! Ha! As a Canadian theatre creator I think it is necessary to make work for yourself, it’s not just a survival technique (hey I get to pay myself in this blockbuster right?!) but also it ensures you are making the type of art that moves you – that fulfills you. And if I was booked up I would cast Emma Stone, as long as she dyed her hair back to red. I love her work and her fantastically genuine presence on film.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your play? 

Loss is sometimes greater than leaving your umbrella on the subway.

Will your play be self-produced or mounted by a theatre?  So far it has been picked up by the New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre for their 2013 run. I will have a one-off reading/staging of my show on March 23rd 2013. From there I am planning on filming it so I can submit for some grant proposals. Ultimately I would love to tour it to high schools or universities to raise awareness about mental health and dealing with loss. I hope to partner with a mental health institute to being a support package to schools when I visit so they have resources for any type of follow up.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your script? First draft took a year. It is basically a diary of the events that happened to me personally, then redrafted into something a bit more fictionalized as to help make it flow and exclude all the boring-ness of my actual life 😉 I have been working with Bricoteer Experiments Theatre; thank you James and Grey!  They helped me workshop the script through the use of puppetry. Dramaturg and editors, these two brought me out of my comfort zone and into a creative place where I was ready to give my story shape with well thought-out criticism and feedback.

What other plays would you compare this story to within your genre? My two big influences on this piece are Sandra Shamas (her one-woman shows, especially My Boyfriends Back and there’s Going to be Laundry was a huge inspiration/validation for my diary approach – or what I call Confessional Theatre,) and Daniel MacIvor’s solo shows (House, Monster, Here Lies Henry) were a great way to study pace and character work with one person on stage.

Who or what inspired you to write this play? Well, there are those playwrights above that act as inspirations…. But mainly the fact I couldn’t help but write this story. I was selfish and used the pen and page to help me work out what I was going through as I hit bereavement hard. So many people wanted to know what happened to my brother and to my family – to me. And so, this play about my one year of bereavement tells all those things. The horrors of depression, the triumph of finding love, the loss of someone dear to me, twice, three times – I lost count. But the fact that so many people sought me out to hear my story – to hear my brother’s story – I knew I had to write it out. And I knew it had to be theatre and not any other medium as I wanted the storyteller aspect to this. It needed the opportunity to connect with it’s audience in real time, in a real space. Film would create too much distance. A book seemed too close to being an actual diary and no room for the spontaneity I had learned through reading/watching MacIvor’s work with Brooks. No. It had to be theatre.

What else about your play might pique the audience’s interest?  I don’t want to ride anyone’s coat tails, so as much as I love MacIvor and Shamas – I wrote my piece to stand apart. How you might ask? I really am in love with shadows and silhouettes and the effect of them onstage.  I want my one-woman show to be not-so-one-woman with these shadows taking the form of everyone else in the show. She will essentially be alone with a scrim/screen behind her, yet she will find herself in a crowded subway “full of people” who will be nothing more than the shadows of the subway patrons. The saying “ever feel alone in a crowded room” comes to mind when I try to explain this to people. So come and see my experiment! I will be working with Steph Ouaknine who is already working on the projection designs for these shadow players.

I hope you can join me on March 23rd 2013 at Alumnae Theatre for the first ever public staged reading of “Everything But The Cat…”

 

Who tagged me? Well this talented red head:  Chloë Ariane Whitehorn

https://www.facebook.com/ChloeWhitehorn

Who I tagged:

AJ LaFlamme http://www.artbytheft.com/

 

 

Inspiration recharge

I saw this last night – I needed a creative recharge after my last post/painful cold read experience. So naturally I turned to my two of my living muses: Daniel MacIvor and Sandra Shamas.

I met Sandra just recently, and revelled in her storytelling. Her style is a huge inspiration to me and my writing style. She made me believe that what I have to say, however I need to say it and what ever topic I find interesting – I have the right to say it. Confessional Theatre I call it. When I took my mom to see her at the Winter Garden Theatre here in Toronto, my mom leaned over, tears in her eyes from laughing so much and said,

“Holy crap! She’s just like you! She’s SO funny! I mean, this is horrible but this is funny!”

Sandra was talking about menopause and the pitfalls of such an experience, but I got what my mom was saying. I have this show about suicide and bereavement and I am trying to make it not as dark and heavy a show. Sandra is inspiring me to be heavy and light in my writing. Honest, brutal, but also hilarious – because hey, that’s me.

Daniel MacIvor’s solo shows make me want to be a playwright. I want to help people understand people. As in, I want them to understand the differences in people in a way that celebrates just how unique we are. And at the same time – just how fucked up we all are. And hey, that’s okay. But the gloss and shine job we put on ourselves to “face the world” is just that – a face. A mask.

I saw his “This is what happens next” last night by Necessary Angel and I needed that. I needed to see something I believe in. I believe in his style and writing so very much. Confessional Theatre: where the audience is your best friend and you can tell them ANYTHING. They will be there the whole time, waiting, watching, hopeful, supportive – even if you are being a dick (the character Will for instance in “This is what happens next”) or you know the inevitable (as with The Kid) and you can still be hopeful – you can still be witness to their story. Which is the important part.

In the writer’s note by MacIvor, one part stood out:

Are all stories true? Well what is truth? Is truth “fact”? If so, then no, all the facts are not true. Are the characters real? Well, if “real” means “actual”, then no they aren’t real. But fact and actuality have informed and filtered everything in this show and there is truth. True feelings and fears and joy.

I am now ready to go back and look at my script and make some decisions. Editing is hard. But with these two muses fuelling me I feel energized and ready for the challenge.

Playwright hat on.

The pitfalls of writing

Rant time.

If you’re not in the mood to hear a rant – press on to here: http://links.laughingsquid.com/ where you can get lost in what’s happening elsewhere.

The rant:

Last night I did something I have never done before: I had my script read by strangers in a public forum. It was a cold-read, which means there was just a person picking up my script and reading it without any direction (she cheated and had the script before the read date so I assume she looked at it before last night… But after last night I doubt it.)

It was painful. I shook from my solar plexus the WHOLE TIME. Not because I couldn’t stand someone saying my words (I have several historical plays that have been produced and enjoyed collaborative direction and I loved the experience!) – no. It was the complete lack of trust in the words. The complete lack of respect for the not just the words, but the punctuation.

HEY YOU. ARE YOU AN ACTOR?

May I suggest a couple things? Watch the last episode of Firefly. There is a quote in there where the character Early says to Doctor Simon,

You oughta be shot. Or stabbed. Lose
a leg. To be a surgeon, you know? Know
what kind of pain you’re dealing with.
They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed
before they can get certified, but they
don’t make a surgeon get cut on. That
seem right to you?

I am not advocating getting shot. What I am saying is: if you want to be the best at your art form (here we are talking acting) then you should explore all the facets of that art form. I’m not saying stop your Meisner classes and take up directing or playwriting – I’m saying look into what goes into those types of roles. Figure out why they are there. Try to see their pitfalls, their trials and hardships in their position. Because the eye opener last night was that thing I heard back when I started learning how to read/deliver Shakespeare.

Shakespeare in himself (herself?) is a huge argument. But for this rant I want to talk about how I was taught to approach the text of Shakespeare. Yes, I know that there is a folio/quarto/modern editors…but I was taught that the words have a rhythm (hi, iambic pentameter!) and that the punctuation is crucial. This is why so many Bardolators get uppity around this topic, as there are so many people who have been involved in the punctuation placement game when it comes to his work.

I digress. Last night I heard the cold-reader blatantly disregard not just words (which hurt because it changed the meaning of the text) but mostly when they disregarded the punctuation. It is the one clear thing that a writer can write. Italics, parenthesis, underlining, hyphens – which I adore – all can mean different things. Did the writer mean to stress that or under-stress that word? Does that mean it’s important or should the reading be flippant? But the one thing that is quite clear is what follows:

Periods are full stops.

Commas are half breaths.

Hyphens are a push through, a sudden change even.

Colons are a list.

So actors (and yes I am reading my own words here when I say this) when you pick up and read in an audition room/cold read – please please PLEASE pay attention to the things that are set in stone. THE PUNCTUATION. *And if you bring up Christopher Walken I will mentally kick you in the shin!

The words are there for interpretation but the punctuation is there to help you find your breath (think Shakespeare and musicality) and ultimately the character. The punctuation is just as important as the words.

(side rant: at a reading, the stage directions should not be glossed over. But that’s all I have to say about that. And as actors we seldom get a leg-up. If there is an insight into what is happening in the audition room or the reading LATCH ONTO IT! If you get the sides beforehand: read them. Sorry, sorry… I know I’m supposed to stop ranting now….)

There. That is my rant.

Please rant back. Period.

A little chat…

My friend and past-cast mate, Phil Rickaby, has this great podcast in which he talks casually with actors, playwrights, theatre creators about everything and nothing.

I was so excited when he asked me to be a guest on his “show” that I may have done a happy dance.

Offstage Podcast with Adrianna Prosser

A little about influences on my creative process, what I’m working on, and what I like to tackle. Have a listen if you can – I would love to hear your thoughts!

Great News. Great Inspiration. Great Women.

So I am a huge nerd about certain things. I also am a closet shy-girl. Yes. Me. Shy. I fan-girl in the most awkward worst way possible. I am terribly shy and self-conscious around people that make the world a better place and make me want to be a better artist and person. One of these people is Sandra Shamas – who not only was an original puppeteer for Fraggle Rock (OMGTHATISSOFREAKINGCOOL) but she also has this great wit and writing style to her. Her series of one-woman shows has been a huge inspiration to me to write first person dialogue to the audience. A confessional theatre flavour. My script currently titled “Everything but the Cat… A Not-So-One-Woman-Show about Bereavement and Suicide” has the tag line on the front page as a synopsis:

“Sandra Shamas has a third date with Postsecret.” This describes my genre. It’s humour and wit, with that edge of intimacy and secret sharing that Postsecret is known for.

Then I fan-girled her TONIGHT at a local Storytelling Event at a deli in Toronto

 

I was so excited to meet her and tell her I cried my ass off (tears of laughter mostly) with my mother at her most recent show in Toronto. I also squeed that yes, my show, was inspired to be in the format that I chose because I felt validated by reading/seeing her shows – has been picked up for workshopping and presentation with The New Ideas Festival 2013!!!! March 9th at 12 noon I will be presenting my show for the first time for the public! I can’t wait! Thanks to Bricoteer Experiment Theatre (James and Grey), and my close friends and family who have really pushed and pulled this story out of me.

I can’t wait to see what comes next!