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!
“Scarred Leather” comes from a keyword search, themes exploration, and phrases around my story. It alludes to weather beaten chaps, worn saddles, sun burnt and scarred skin is the life of a cowgirl. But it also speaks to how the past leaves a mark on the present.
The audience warning so far reads “use of gunshots, foul language, and R’lyehian. Vengeful Gods may be invoked.” Here is a sample of it:
Now to give it a rest and then re-read for a 1.2 draft then it’s off to beg for eyes on it to see the holes I can’t see because I’m too close to it. Welcome to my process for playwriting.
A few years ago I started working with Eldritch Theatre and it was magical – no really there was actual magic! The creatives in Eldritch Theatre are pretty stellar and even though I’m the Marketing Monster and Producer, I’m still made to feel a part of the creative team.
There have been great reviews, great fan feedback, and the houses are always bursting with laughter (and people! We keep selling out!) So as a Producer this is making my heart happy, and as a theatre creator it’s making my heart explode because we need more risk taking, more ridiculous, more PUPPETS in our lives.
I hope you get to see it – and because I’m the Producer I’m going to share a secret with you… “Comic Horror” is the discount code for $20 anytime tickets and there is always PWYC Sundays that you can book ahead!
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.
One of my fondest memories and best acting gigs I ever got was playing Anne Bonny in the Toronto Pirate Festival between 2006-2008. I got to swashbuckle, carry an axe, wear fun costumes, and pretend my red hair meant I was Irish.
Before smart phones and before social media this video was taken of myself as the irate Anne Bonny and the now Artistic Director of Dauntless City Theatre Scott Emerson Moyle.
Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! Yarr I be missin the golden age of my piracy days 😉
First, the photo above was taken by Joanna Haughton as part of her Strength in Vulnerability photo-series. Here is what she wanted to share about it:
Strength in Vulnerability. The moments of our greatest strength are those we are most vulnerable. We think strength is hard, but it isn’t. That’s weakness. Strength is found when we are broken, when we let all our defenses down, and find that after everything we still stand, love, and live.
I started this series a couple years ago. Finding people willing to be totally open has been hard. But I feel this needs to be shared and can’t wait anymore.
I thought it a fitting day – Suicide Prevention Day to start to share this series. Because we all need help sometimes, we all need love, and support. And sometimes we don’t have the strength to do it alone.
I am happy to share my story in hopes it will help others through Stories Like Crazy, my co-hosted mental health podcast with Lori Lane Murphy. I live with anxiety and situational depression each year November hits as that was the date when my brother took his life in 2010. Each year I find new ways of managing and dealing with the anniversary of his death, and each year I try to spread awareness and resources so others can be alert to suicide in their community. So today of all days I would like to give you places to learn from and lean on when dealing with suicide:
I am planning on a safeTALK workshop in November to commemorate Andrew’s passin; let me know if you would like to be notified (in comments below) as I have about 12 spots this time around. Time and location TBA – but definitely in Toronto and most likely November 19th.
It’s ok to not be okay, but it’s also okay to ask for help. 💚
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: