These are strange times we are living through; I wrote about the impact of our new “normal” on my mental health blog that tries to encapsulate the surreal reality we find ourselves in. The imagery of pushing through the darkness (IE depression, anxiety, fear of living through a global pandemic) and trying to still access creativity as a means of expression without all the avenues we are used to. No more theatres, no more festivals, no more gatherings.
Enter the idea of Graham Abbey and Dylan Trowbridge: Ghostlight.ca
I love the image of the ghost light being left on in the absence of our brick and mortar theatres, and making space for where we find ourselves: a digital storytelling space. Which just happens to be where I have found myself for the past few years telling stories on social media and digital platforms. When Graham and Dylan approached me for insight and support I fell in love with the concept immediately! Here’s a bit more about the project:
Further down that About Page you will see my face as the Digital Strategist and Social Media lead and I am excited for what our team is creating.
With a focus on “illuminating, creating, collaborating,” Ghost Light is looking to become the Canadian theatre hub for thespians of all trades.
I hope you come along for the ride! Subscribe, comment, and give us a like 👍I would love to hear what you think about this project as we are building it to meet the needs of local artists and we want to hear from you! Our guests and mentors are just about ready to be announced, so hold on to the edge of your digital seat – we will leave the light on for you and for the art form we love.
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Illuminate your art online.
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!
I have been working behind-the-scenes (well behind-the-screen) for Groundling Theatre and Crow’s Theatre’s adaptation of Julius Caesar as their social media specialist. I have been having a blast managing their Facebook and Twitter, where so many audience members and critics are able to interact with me and tell me how much they LOVE this production.
I am so excited for Checkpoint 300 at Fringe this year – ok ok I’m bias, because not only am I working on the show as their marketing and publicist, but I also know Michelle Wise (Playwright and Director) and Geoff Mays from a long time ago from my actors life. Plus bringing to life such a heavy but important subject as xenophobia and religious conflict in the middle east – this show won an award for being such a great piece of theatre. I hope you can see it: https://fringetoronto.com/fringe/show/checkpoint-300
I took photos from their rehearsal for media use and I am happy to put my learning curve of photography to use: (and a little graphic design to add in the mix!)
Happy Fringing to you all! And let me know what is on your “Fringe Picks” this year, I have some theatre to see 🙂
Once upon a time I wrote about something very close to my broken heart for the stage. I wrote a 40 minute one-woman show about my first year of bereavement after my brother died by suicide. As a theatre creator it was the best way to express myself and to process and understand what had happened. It accomplished some of those things.
I workshopped it, staged it, toured it, and still do it today on request. It propelled me into a new chapter of my life sharing my story and becoming a mental health advocate, smashing stigma around mental illness and most specifically the stigma surrounding suicide. I even trained up and became an ASIST trainer and teach suicide prevention to groups of people.
It has been 9 years since my brother took his life, and I am still rattled. I still get situational depression around his deathaversary every November. I call this seasonal depression the Novembears. I wrote a children’s book about it. I have had strangers ridicule me for my open grief, I have had people leave my circle of friends because I couldn’t “get over it already”, and I have even had fallouts with family who thought the same way. This play is about a sister who loses her brother and someone says to her: “You must love that boy something fierce.” “Death changes nothing,” she replies. This is what the show is about.
It’s also about the guilt, the shame, the sadness, the grief of losing someone and how that stays with you regardless of time. The grief changes, and the grief changes you. It’s not as all consuming, it gets “easier” (air quotes, you get it right?) but it never goes away, not completely, at least not at the 9 year mark for me.
I wanted to write something that felt like my journey through grief to this point. Truthfully I wanted something ready to mark his 10th year of passing. I don’t know why, maybe because like the first year with Everything But the Cat… it would help me start a new chapter of healing.
Scarred Leather is the next chapter – the journey has been laborious just like a cowgirl on horseback – complete with saddle sores and weariness; the pistol is the aggressive blame and shame trying to take down anyone in its path; the Victorian structure is society’s rules around how to deal with death (that’s why my heroine challenges it with dressing like a man, she lives fully outside it’s rules/stigma); and the characters around her are all dealing with death in different ways and their ghosts/memories haunt them in different ways too, because we all deal with death in different ways. It can make us hide our true selves, deceive ourselves and others, it can change us for better or worse, it takes the things we love and leaves a gaping hole, and it can tear us down to build something new in its place.
Scarred Leather gets its name from a cowboy term referring to the imperfections in ones leathers, namely the saddle, which it gets after years of use. The scars are from enduring harsh weather, long rides, and being thrown around the barn. We can see these scars on our own flesh as imperfections, or as a life lived complete with mistakes and regrets and the lessons learned from them.
This workshop production is not traditional in any sense, because what you think grief is from the outside, like this Western seems to be, is very different from what it actually is.
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.
But more excited to challenge myself in not just writing a period piece, not just collaborating with talented actors Jason Martorino, Phil Rickaby, and Caroline Concordia, but to up my photoshop skills to make the visuals for it! That includes my poster:
We are doing a staged reading as it is still in development, but we will be doing light rehearsals until the festival, and of course it will be costumed because why do a Western in plain clothes?! You can see behind the scenes and updates on Whiskey Ginger Collective’s social media:
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!