“Art by Actors”… World Theatre Day continues…

Years ago I found a book called “Actors as Artists” by Jim McMullan & Dick Gautier, and gave it to my father who’s a painter. Filled with well-known actors who also paint, I thought the gift appropriate coming from his “actor-daughter”. The book revealed exciting artistic layers of those actors.

A similar opportunity presents itself with Art By Actors, an exhibition/auction at The Stanley Theatre by the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance for World Theatre Day.

Read the rest of my article at the World Theatre Day Blog…..

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World Theatre Day…and more!

Today marks World Theatre Day, and it also marks exactly one year since I started this blog. Despite being here a year, I still feel like a newbie who desires to write more frequently, and explore more (hopefully that feeling will last forever).

In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a very Happy World Theatre Day.  I wish this day had the same buzz as the Olympics, but, unfortunately we live in a world where sport accomplishments seem to rise to the top, long before artistic ones. I guess it’s a number game.

However, I didn’t show up to my blog today to rant. I came here to celebrate theatre, and honour the spectacle, the liveness, the unexpected, the truth, the mistakes, the improvisation, the courage of the story, of the actors, and of the support behind the scenes.

Theatre has been in my life since I was 17 when I first got involved with costumes at the Charlottetown Festival in Prince Edward Island. I eventually became a dresser and the joke was always that “one of the performers had fallen” and “Trilby had to go on”. In my imagination, I would burst out of my dowdy pinafore and conveniently have a sequined outfit underneath. I was READY!

That scenario didn’t happen, but I did end up taking the place of one of the clowns in the children’s clown show where I was also doing the lights and audio. And, I loved it. The performing seed was planted.

My journey was seriously launched at Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique, in Quebec City, where I studied acting, en Francais, for three years.

Outside le théâtre du Conservatoire
Outside le théâtre du Conservatoire

Since graduation (many moons ago), I have played with lots of actors, told lots of stories in both languages, had funny things happen (remember your mustache drifting off your face, Dan?), had scary moments (oh..it’s awful to have a blank on opening night!), and had a lot of fun.

Earlier this year I was fortunate to have directed “The Memory of Water” by Shelagh Stephenson and I truly enjoyed the creative adventure. This evening, appropriately, the cast and crew are celebrating our journey together.

Cast & Crew of "The Memory of Water"
Cast & Crew of "The Memory of Water"

So, today, I dedicate World Theatre Day to them, our experience, and to all those who continue to dare to write plays, mount plays, act in plays, tour with plays, renovate old theatres, and to the audiences who continue to appreciate witnessing live theatre.

Merci, et, célébronskeep celebrating theatre! Vive Le Théâtre!

Moving Beyond Obstacles… thank you Paralympians & Olympians…

Wheelchairs, crutches, no arms, limping bodies, eyes not seeing, distortions, hidden prosthetics, and steady smiling faces that showed light, determination, and an aching to live to the utmost.

That’s what I saw when the Paralympic Athletes, yes with a capital A, paraded before the Vancouver audience at the Opening Ceremonies.

Paralympic 2010 Opening Ceremonies, photo by Carol Browne

I wasn’t there, but instead was glued to my TV noticing that this sport event might affect me more than I anticipated, differently to the previous Olympics.

The Paralympics touch a chord. A personal chord.

First of all, I have a father who’s in a wheelchair. I have seen him over the years go from walking solo to canes, to finally a wheelchair. Concurrently, I have also seen him pursue his art with a fierce determination. I have watched how both my mother and father never gave up as a team.

Then 7 years ago, I had a back operation. Unfortunately, I had over-endured much pain and by the time I got to the operating table, my right leg was not functioning properly. I couldn’t walk afterwards. To recuperate, I did constant physiotherapy to get me from a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane, to finally a foot brace.

The foot brace is still in my life as I have nerve damage leaving me with “drop foot” but I don’t let that stop me!

In fact, because of watching so much of the Olympics and Paralympics, I felt a stirring and decided it was time to see if I could still skate. It had been over 20 years. I used to figure skate when I was a kid, and loved it. And, in my adult life skating showed up in repetitive dreams in which I skated to perfection!

Off to a small community rink in Vancouver we went and I found myself going through motions that seemed extremely foreign, yet, very familiar.

Before skating
Before skating

However, the motions on the ice were instantly UNfamiliar! “This is slippery!! How do people do this!?”. Determined to stick it out, I grabbed onto the side and didn’t let go for about 2 rounds of the rink.

By the 3rd round, I eased off my clutching. Then, I started sensing another stirring. My body seemed to be taking my head hostage and movements from my skating past were returning.

Before I knew it, my body was gliding with some power, and suddenly, it whipped around, putting me face to face with my partner who was behind me. “You’re skating BACKWARDS!” “I know!!” Gulp….

Me skating!
Me skating!

I may not be an Olympic or a Paralympic athlete, but in my own little world, I feel I have conquered something important. And, I want to do it again.

Thank you to all of you, especially the Paralympians, for inspiring me, and many others..

The 2010 Vancouver Olympics inspired an unexpected feeling…

The Olympics are over, and there is a quieter feeling in Vancouver.

The red hockey shirts, hats, mitts, scarves, weird hats, costumes, shoes, maple leaves, and flags have retired to closets. The spontaneous “woohoos!” have abated. And, I admit, I miss those crazy connections with strangers, and the upbeat energy.

Something emotional and spirited took place in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, pleasantly catching a few of us off guard.

Post Gold Medal Men's Hockey Game!
Post Gold Medal Men's Hockey Game!

However, with the Paralympics are around the corner,  hopefully, some of that enthusiasm will  re-ignite along with the flame!

2010 Olympic Flame
2010 Olympic Flame

I had a secret pleasure in observing the freedom that occurred with many individuals, and noted that a lot of people allowed their “bouffon” to emerge and take life a wee less seriously. It was like the Olympics gave permission for people to express themselves, release, and play.

Downtown Vancouver during Olympics 2010
Downtown Vancouver during Olympics 2010

And, that’s what I did too. Play. I indulged in my “Canadian-ness” and got caught up in our patriotic rouge. I became the Hockey Fan I was supposed to have been when I first won my Tourism BC twitter prize. I yelled  “Louuu…” every time Roberto Luongo saved a goal, and jumped up & down screaming when Sidney Crosby saved the day. (what was happening to me?).

I had pictures taken with  Canadiana as if I were a tourist in my own town.

Lucky me with Canadian Mounties..
Lucky me with Canadian Mounties
Beaver Bouffons!
Beaver Bouffons!

And, an extra special pic with Gold Medalist Skeleton Jon Montgomery!

Me & Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery!
Me & Gold Medalist Jon Montgomery!

My heart beat hard watching Joannie Rochette skate her Golden Bronze performance, I leaped off the couch as we witnessed the unexpected Gold medal snowboarding by Jasey-Jay Anderson, and the close Golden win of the men’s speed skating minutes later.

(My own Olympic moment was when I was zipped across a wire over Robson Square downtown Vancouver!! Whew!)

Watching the athletes inspired me to “go for Gold” in my art. As all the athletes were striving for their best performances, my cast in “The Memory of Water” at the Deep Cove Shaw Theatre were also enjoying sinking deeper and deeper into their work, giving audiences memorable experiences.

Just before our opening, I told myself, as I was directing,  to “Go through the finish line, not up to it..” It feels good to know that’s exactly what we all did!

"The Memory of Water" First Impressions Theatre
"The Memory of Water" First Impressons Theatre

Did the Olympics affect you in a surprising way, and are you going to embrace the Paralympics? (Personally, I think they already deserve medals for just being an athlete who has had to overcome incredible obstacles before mastering their sport.)

Olympic Inukshuk
Olympic Inukshuk