Notes from the Playwright

Notes from the Playwright

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.

Scarred Leather Trailer

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.

I hope you enjoy the show.

And you can have a listen to the cast and creators on Stageworthy Podcast

Scarred Leather Character Portraits

Scarred Leather Character Portraits

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…

Jason Martorino as The Mysterious Stranger
Caroline Concordia as Eliza Montcastle
Phil Rickaby as Bill the Bartender

Each character is from 1847, old Upper Canada, in the wilds of the new land called home – the outback of the Western world.

Come see it March 19-24th at Red Sandcastle Theatre: https://www.whiskeygingercollective.org/events-1

Poster Reveal for my Western

Western poster with a red head in an orange duster coat and pistol raised to the viewer, the ghost of a man in all black in a black cowboy hat. in the distance a hauntingly dark saloon sits vacant on the hills of Canada in 1842

I am excited to have my haunted Western, Scarred Leather, at the first ever Whiskey Ginger Collective New Works Festival at Red Sandcastle Theatre March 19-24th (plug plug plug)

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:

Western poster with a red head in an orange duster coat and pistol raised to the viewer, the ghost of a man in all black in a black cowboy hat. in the distance a hauntingly dark saloon sits vacant on the hills of Canada in 1842

Thanks to Ryan Fisher I got some great cowgirl shots over the past year, and then Jason Martorino channeled his inner Man in the Black in an impromptu photoshoot with me; thus this homage to the early 90’s Western craze (which The Quick and the Dead is among my favourites! I mean do I even have to mention Back to the Future 3 as my favourite movie of ever?!) was made. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

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:

https://www.instagram.com/whiskeygingercollective/
https://twitter.com/WhiskeyGingerC4
https://www.facebook.com/whiskeygingercollective/

Hope to see you there! Now, back to editing the script….

Western: First Draft

Some of you may know I love the Western genre, so much so that I had a few cosplay photoshoots with RainyFresh Photography. I have been working on a one-act play for Whisky Ginger Collective theatre festival in March 2019, and it’s been a slow process. Full of procrastination and doubt, but after a few months I have a first draft AND a title:

“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.

History is Dramatic

One of the many hats I wear is shaped like a bonnet – well, at least that’s my usual hat when I’m at the museums. I am a storyteller and sometimes the story I have to tell is that of Toronto’s history at some of the historic house museums. You can learn about my endeavors on my Historical Interpreter page and see more about my historical dramas built for site specifically on my Playwright page

The Toronto History Museums and I have a long standing history (pun intended) of creating experiences for patrons to explore history in a different/immersive way. I have created several theatre-in-situ/site specific stories based on artifacts, letters, diaries, and photographs. Here’s my little piece in the museum magazine about it:
history is dramatic magazine page article front cover of toronto historic sites museum magazine Adrianna in Toronto History Museum Magazine

So fun! I can’t wait to see what our next creation will be 🙂

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!

Writer’s Retreat – Toronto Islands Artscape

Writer’s Retreat – Toronto Islands Artscape

The writer’s retreat at Artscape Gibraltar Point last month was nothing like what I expected.

For one thing, I didn’t know it was going to be so gosh darn gorgeous. I mean look at those photos! I was compelled to stay outside and if you know me that is NOT my factory settings! I hide in the shade or stay inside, but that weekend I was constantly trying to stay outside and soak up the sunshine and the beautiful relaxing landscape. But wait, isn’t the Toronto Islands a tourist destination? How can that be relaxing? Well, the organizer (and friend) Phil Rickaby planned our weekend retreat on Mother’s Day weekend + the weekend was cold and calling for rain so not many people were there except the usual suspects (aka the people who live there).

I was there with 5 other writers, only two are pictured above as I didn’t want this to be a “vacation” where I photograph everything (though I couldn’t help the pictures above because AGAIN it was so damn gorgeous!) – all of which had a project they were working on. I was working on the 2 Weeks to Paradise webseries script! We shared our pieces together and gave feedback on what we heard.

We had our own desks in our rooms and came together at meals and hung out (Phil and I went to the farm on the island and got kissed by Prince the llama(!), and heard about each other’s projects. It was really inspiring!

Here is a sample of what I wrote while I was there; it’s shifting the focus on Claire, the principal character’s intern. I want each of them to have a full story of their own as “supporting” characters…

CLAIRE
You know what I mean. You’re dedicated. You’re an artist.

JENNY
Graphic artists don’t get to be “artistes”.

CLAIRE
Ya you do, it’s in your job title.

JENNY
Ya but, I don’t use a brush I use a keyboard and I don’t think a museum wants my digital creations any time soon. Hell, I just want my Etsy to blow up – pay my rent, hell buy me groceries…

CLAIRE
Do you need money?

JENNY
No no no. I just, ah, I just am feeling like a faker. No one wants my shit.

CLAIRE
It’s not shit.

JENNY
Says the dutiful sister.

CLAIRE
Says the sister who is always right.

JENNY
I love you “sister who is always right”.

CLAIRE
I love you too. Now (waves her fork like a wand) it is time for another glass of wine! Why? Oh, because I’m always right!

Here’s hoping the next round of grants will let me finish this and produce it up for you to see! In the meantime, if you can BOOK SOME TIME at Artscape, I’m already planning on going again later this year. It was exactly what the writer doctor ordered 🙂

*Special thanks to Phil Rickaby for putting that weekend together and all the participants who were just an amazing talent and energy to be around.

2 Weeks to Paradise – #amWriting

I don’t know if you know this but I started writing a web series…

This was made for IPF funding , it’s a ‘proof of concept’ trailer in hopes that they will like the concept and we can get backing from them to hire awesome talented people to make it a reality.

I’m calling it the next chapter in the Everything But the Cat… trilogy. But that only makes two? Ah yes, I’m also putting together a children’s book too! Since these are all under my EBTC branding which aligns itself with mental health, grief, and bereavement – I haven’t been talking about it much here, so if you want to follow that journey hop on over to www.everythingbutthecat.net and see how it’s doing 🙂

Please subscribe and like the above channel and video, as that is where the rest of the episodes will be posted, should we get funding!

Thanks for your support! And thanks to Charlie, Jason, Danielle, Phil, Ryan, AJ, Ron, Val, and Coral for making that video happen – you are the bestest!

“Hey Adri, what are you working on?”

I get this question a lot. And it always feels good to say, “you might want to sit down, this could take a while…!”

Cranium Cookie is always happening! In fact we just shot another episode about dogs and behaviour with none-other-than my lil puppy McFly! Plus we are having fun online at @craniumcookie – join us!

Cast of State of Women by Tandum Entertainment with Adrianna as Jean
Cast of State of Women in rehearsal by Tandum Entertainment with Adrianna as Jean

 

I have started rehearsals (pictured is the main cast of ladies!) for this really awesome WWII EPIC called “State of Women” written by the ever-so talented Andy Lyberopoulos, and directed by Tatum Lee. It’s a 5 Act play (impressive right?!) that looks at the lives of women in WWII: factory work, personal loss and gains during the war – I’ll say it again: EPIC. It goes up in July for a limited run to preview to some big-wigs but perhaps you can steal a seat! I highly recommend it.

And lastly, I have written a web series about bereavement and grief and mental health: it’s called “2 Weeks to Paradise” <-*read the first 3 episodes here!*  and I am getting the first read of it with actors going next week! I’m excited and a little bit scared with a touch of ERMERGERD. So I feel like I’m on the right track to creating something here.

OH and I’m still at the museums as their Social Media Community Manager (oh lookie I have a fancy title now!) and I’m helping plan a Steampunk festival for Zion Schoolhouse in August – be there or be a steamed square! And I am 3 courses deep into my College certificate for Social Media at George Brown (top of my class, well la-di-da!) and of course being zany on commercials or as a knight (SQUEE BEST GIG EVER!)

So ya, what’s new with you? 😉

Adrianna on set as a 70's chick (but looks a lot like Velma from Scooby Doo
Adrianna on set as a 70’s chick (but looks a lot like Velma from Scooby Doo

Adrianna as The Red Knight at Casa Loma March Break 2015
Adrianna as The Red Knight at Casa Loma March Break 2015

Answer some questions about yourself.

My friend and constant inspiration Kat Leonard asked me some great questions, and I mean GREAT. These rival the #AskHerMore questions on Twitter! Here, click the pic & take a look at what I answered:

People Profile: Adrianna Prosser's headshot for Kat Leonard

 

I think everyone should ask themselves these questions. Furthermore, Kat was so generous to ask me to come out and take part in her WonderFest in March  where I will be performing a piece from my Everything But the Cat… one-woman show. It looks like it will be March 5th at 3030 Dundas St W – stay tuned for more details 🙂