A month in a day

This past weekend I feel like I have lived a month in a single day. Or, I guess, counting the fact that I did two different shows in two days, it should be a month in 48 hours…

IMG_0398On Friday at 9 am I did my one-woman show for the Durham School Board, District 13 to be precise.

With 37 teachers representing several different schools I was more than a little nervous to do this show for THE FIRST TIME IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE. And a very important audience at that. I was presenting to them on their themed PD DAY event about Mental Health Awareness with the hopes that if they liked what they saw they would invite me to their school to present my show.

IMG_7364

 

 

<– The talented Dwayne Harmer made these awesome teacher’s info sheets. And then it was time to do the show….

 

 

 

AND THEY LOVED IT!

IMG_7373

IMG_7375

 

 

 

 

 

^ That comment card above made my heart swell, much like the Grinch, to 3x it’s size. I knew after the presentation that I had something. I had a story to share. That Andrew’s story was to be shared. It felt great to be able to do that. One teacher asked if I could do the show next week! HA! I hope my team can follow up and start a tour soon, but that may be too soon! But just to be safe, I quickly went on an epic journey to purchase a projector for the awesome projections in my show. I nicknamed it “Princess” because Dwayne and I were laughing about the fact that it did turn into a quest not unlike the quest of rescuing Princess Peach in the Mario Bros videogames. The projector/Princess was always “in a different castle” (or store) and we had to keep moving onwards! So when we finally found one it was rightfully named Princess 😉

Then that evening I had the pleasure of escorting my very talented boyfriend, Jason Martorino, to the private screening of his horror flick “Kingdom Come” which was AMAZING! Sometimes it’s easy to get swallowed up by one’s own projects – but I am so very lucky to have Jason who is supportive of my work and I his. It was great to be his plus one and witness his hard work on screen. So great. And so great that he helped me out on my project as he was my Sound Operator for my PD Day presentation.

Next up on Saturday was Drunk Macbeth – with only 2 rehearsals (including the day of: 12 pm start and I left at 11:30 pm…) it was nerve wracking up until we took the stage at 8 pm. Get this, we SOLD OUT and had a rush line that we ended up turning away! The best part? Wearing Scottish attire:

995247_10153549127255193_1927166764_n

 

I was given such great compliments for my Lennox/Second Witch roles! My fav was that I was such a “badass goddess” with my dirk and tartan 🙂 Yup. That made my day.

So after this weekend, of which I did a month of prep for production wise (please visit the website I designed www.everythingbutthecat.net and enjoy the twitter feed of @Urban_Bard from the show night and @EverythingCatTO because they were curated by me!), and acting wise (holy jeeze a 45 minute monologue of a show, and then remembering my iambic pentameter…oy.) Ach mon to be more in theme 😉

So you will excuse me if I fall in a heap as my brain/heart/limbs are all exhausted from this weekend. And thank you to everyone that helped me get here. After a nap, or two, I will get back to making the tour happen!

 

 

Everything… came together!

Production crew Steph and Eden and Ms. Dawson My production team for this round: Director Steph and Sound Tech Eden! Thanks ladies!!!Robin Silhouette
One of the projections at the school – looked awesome!
Thank you Card from SinclairAww, you guys… thank you for having me! It truly was wonderful for you to host my show!

 

Today was my “trial by fire” with my Everything but the Cat… production about my first year of bereavement. Steph, my director, and my friend Eden, worked on the projections and sounds to bring together a 20 minute version of my show for Sinclair High School in Whitby. I was honoured to be invited and doubly so to have such an amazingly awesome audience – for BOTH shows. Yes you heard me. I did two back to back solo shows where I cried, they cried, I laughed, they laughed and then we had some great discussions. I walked away with some great ideas and feedback too.

Some of the highlights of this morning’s experience are as follows:

-The one thing contraband at this school was Oranges. One of the faculty is allergic. Guess what I have in my show? A GLASS OF OJ! It became a quick star of the show…

-I got hugs! I love that the students were so ready to let me into their lives and to give me some space in their heart! I had some great private one-on-one moments with students too!

-One student even asked if I needed an actor for some upcoming re-staging of the show. I was floored! They wanted to be a part of it? BEYOND FLATTERED.

-Teachers and students gave input into what they would like to see and how I may be able to help them achieve their goals in the classroom and still be on topic. I am excited to get the ideas down on paper (after this blog) so I can build a solid program for the fall.

I keep saying “for the fall” like I have a plan. The answer is – no, I really don’t. But if I give myself a deadline I am more likely to work. And at this school BOTH audiences asked when they could see the full version. My response? “I’ll see you in the fall!” 🙂

Next task on my wish-list for this program is to get a great counselor on my side. Many students wanted advice and to share some personal stories with me. I wanted to be able to provide the perfect answer… Trouble is there isn’t one. But at least with a trained professional who knows how to handle those in crisis or those who would like advice about crisis in their life or someone close to them – well I want them in the room with me so we can co-facilitate those types of interactions. Please let me know if you know someone who would be willing to tour schools with me!

So thank you to all those involved but especially Ms Dawson and Mr Emes who invited me to their school in Whitby for this special visit. It was an amazing day!

 

Everything… in the classrooms update

So! I had a fantastic meeting with Pat McCarthy who is an Education Consultant and Artistic Producer at Alumnae Theatre (which is where we met – during the New Ideas Festival where Everything… had its first public viewing as a staged reading.)

Here is the teachers info package I put together for critique:

Everything but the Cat Teachers Package (PDF)

Next week I’m taking a segment of my show to a high school in Whitby where senior  students in Social Humanities and Drama classes will view and critique my show. I want to know from the source if this is something that they want to hear! If this is a package they want to watch! So this will be a trial by fire…

More updates soon on that.

In other news I have been cast in Spur-of-the-Moment’s Shakespeare In Hospital Programs where actors tour hospitals and perform for the sick and the elderly across GTA. I am really proud to be a part of this! I also am now a part of the “Wharf at War” team that will be touring Ontario (Brockville to Ste. Marie!) doing scripted and improvisational historical interpretation about the War of 1812. I have two characters: a widow born in the Niagara region and a seamstress of Scottish decent. I’m eager to start both these projects as they really speak to the person that I am. I adore both of these companies’ mandates and I am ready to jump in head first 🙂

 

 

New Ideas Festival Reading was today….

bio poster at NIF2013
bio poster at NIF2013

So this happened today… I’m too exhausted to tell you ALL about it, but I wanted to mark the day and say that I had an amazing experience. I was just as nervous, anxious, & excited as if I were walking out on that stage. This team of women you see above – they blew me away. I felt respected and honoured this afternoon. And the audience was full of friends, family, strangers and thespians. It was a beautiful vibe in the audience and a great Q&A after (which for me was the scariest part I had to look forward to!) but all in all I had a wonderful experience.

Thank you especially to Steph, Stevie, and Krista for hitting it out of the park. And to Pat and Carolyn at Alumnae for letting us break the roof off that studio 😉

Now to rest, digest, and take it to the next step.

Breathe.

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/