RED….

Red.. the name of the play I saw a few days ago. Red… the colour of love, of anger, of strawberries, of blood, of carnations, of rosy cheeks, of cooked lobster, of cheeky lipstick, of eyes that have cried too much. The list goes on. Red.

Red by John Logan, produced by First Impressions Theatre of Deep Cove, directed by Jim Hebb and performed by Cameron McDonald (Mark Rothko) and Mike Bodzanowski (Ken), is brilliant. Thoughtfully written (I kept wanting to write down quotes in my dark theatre seat), this production takes the words off the page and splashes them around with no false notes. I want to go back.

I grew up with a painter….. Continue reading “RED….”

Advertisements

My Solo World Theatre Day Mission…

Today March 27 World Theatre Day celebrates it’s 50th anniversary with a succinct & pertinent speech by John Malkovich. Fifty years….. It’s amazing that fifty years later there are so many people who still aren’t aware of this celebration.

I took it on as a mission today to make sure that a whole bunch of people would become enlightened by a simple gesture. I made my sign. Put on my runners and a smile. Then hit the streets with no fanfare.

Me and my World Theatre Day message
Me and my World Theatre Day message

It worked! One person CAN make a difference.

I had conversations about theatre, plays, musicals, husbands who won’t go, time that doesn’t allow, people who loved theatre in Europe, good memories, the politics (especially recently) and I even made some play suggestions that were received positively. I We all laughed. I felt happy as I brought smiles to people….(isn’t that sort of live theatre?) Some cars honked and the drivers gave me the thumbs up.

Now, back at home I feel good that I stirred up a little bit in my quiet community. The dry cleaning man said, “Why isn’t there a parade?” Well… maybe next year, I’ll instigate a parade!

You in?

Here are some people I met who didn’t know about WTD (except one…guess who?)

The local librarian at the West Vancouver Library
The local librarian at the West Vancouver Library
Ginnie & Doris who love theatre! (gave good life tips too!)
Ginnie & Doris who love theatre! (gave good life tips too!)
At our local cafe "Cafe Trafiq"
At our local cafe "Cafe Trafiq"
Our favourite local Iranian store
Our favourite local Iranian store
Our Friday night sushi place
Our Friday night sushi place
This guy wants a World Theatre Day parade!
This guy wants a World Theatre Day parade!
Love small hardware stores!
Love the small hardware stores!
These gals were such fun. It's the middle one's birthday, too!
These gals were such fun. It's the middle one's birthday, too!
Happy West Van busdriver!
Happy West Van busdriver!
Family supporting the arts.
Family supporting the arts
World Theatre on the beach!
World Theatre on the beach!

I dedicate this World Theatre Day to those who continue to make theatre despite the trials & tribulations, and this world of high technology. Vive Le Theatre… Nous allons continuer!

(did you guess the one person who knew about World Theatre Day?)

March 27, World Theatre Day 2011

World Theatre Day has rolled around again – where did that year go?

This year I would like to acknowledge playwright Landford Wilson, who passed away March 24, 2011. His name conjures up special memories as one of his plays was my first foray onto a professional stage.

Pulitzer prize winner “Talley’s Folly” is a deliciously provocative two hander (2 person play) set in 1944 introducing Sally Talley, and Matt Friedman. Matt in pursuance of Sally tries to find ways to get to know her. They both have deep serious secrets and are cautious when it comes to opening up and trusting each other.

Talley's Folly
My original copy of Talley's Folly I studied..

I was fortunate to be cast and spent a summer at the Victoria Playhouse, in Prince Edward Island, Canada doing repertory theatre. The Victoria Playhouse was, and still is, situated idyllically by the ocean in a tiny community. I was surrounded by inspirational nature and a lot of positive support for my first major professional role.

As Talley’s Folly took place at a gazebo by the river, the set was embellished with trees, branches, and bushes that I had to make my way through for my entrance. Every time the stage was re-dressed there seemed more and more trees for me to clamber through, expounding my first line, “MATT!!!” I think the stage hands were having fun challenging me each time. It helped my performance!

The dialogue was witty, deep, and intelligent, and had a rhythm that was pure pleasure to play with. It is a hopeful love story that strips the protective shells of Sally and Matt, in order to find their truthful depths.

Talley's Folly
Me as Sally Talley, my first professional role!

Matt: “This guy told me we were eggs. … He said people are eggs. Said we had to be careful not to bang up against each other too hard. Crack our shells, never be any use again. Said we were eggs. Individuals. We had to keep separate, private. He was very protective of his shell. He said nobody ever knows what the other guy is thinking. We all got about ten tracks going at once, nobody ever knows what’s going down any given track at any given moment. So we never can really communicate. As I’m talking to you on track number three, over on track five I might be thinking about …. Oh any number of things. And when I think you’re listening to me, what are you really thinking??”

Sally: “And you think he’s right or you think he’s wrong?”

Looking back, I realize that I must have understood only certain elements by instinct as I was so young playing a thirty something. I would love to play Sally Talley again. (albeit.. an older one!)

Thank you, Landford Wilson, for this play, and many others you wrote. I dedicate this year’s World Theatre Day to you. R.I.P. Mr. Wilson….

Read more on Landford Wilson: The New York Times

Read the World Theatre Day Message

Read the Canadian Theatre Day Message

Happy World Theatre Day
Happy World Theatre Day

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!

Saving The Santa Monica Playhouse!

Just recently we were in Los Angeles doing some “biz” stuff, and had the pleasure of spending some time at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Santa Monica, my favourite area of LA. Peter D. Marshall and I spent a Saturday at the Playhouse at their Main Stage having a little “Meet ‘n Greet”.

When you arrive at the Playhouse, you have no idea what awaits. You walk into a magical cave, a funky old building with doors hiding performance spaces, a European flavoured courtyard, and a vibe of valued history.

Part of the courtyard

Evelyn Rudie, and Chris DeCarlo are wonderful people who have been running the Playhouse since 1973. The Playhouse, itself, has been producing, non-stop for 49 years and is headed to its 50th, if all goes well. Since Evelyn and Chris have been co-artistic directing, the Playhouse has been honoured with over 250 awards and commendations, and has presented 500 classic, contemporary, and original productions!

Evelyn Rudie and me

Things are somewhat challenging for them at the moment (who isn’t having problems in the arts?), and they have started a “Save The Playhouse” campaign to get them to the end of this year.

After, seeing this intimate treasure with its maze of lovely spaces, and a main stage drenched in theatrical vibes of a historical nature, I promised I would see if I could get a bit more of the world to know about them. And with that exposure, maybe some help would come through.

Entrance to the Main Stage

I could be criticized for not writing about something that is more local, but these days, my world feels quite global, and a theatre in need is a THEATRE in need. And, besides, I just like these guys, a lot, and it’s my blog!

And this isn’t just any theatre.

Co-Artistic Director, Chris DeCarlo, a Viet Nam veteran, said that his experiences convinced him that his mandate was to put the human back in humanity. “All of us at the Playhouse want to make a dramatic difference in our world.”

I hope they continue, because as I strolled on the boards of their “Main Stage”, I dared to speak a few words of my one-woman show I’m developing, and it felt good!

If you would like to investigate further, please see their website, and if you feel moved to contribute to their continued success, don’t hesitate (there’s a “donate” button on their site). They are super, and the kids who study there think so too!

(By the way, Evelyn Rudie was the youngest actress to ever receive a Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame….wow! 🙂 )

Save the Playhouse!

The Art of Listening…?

I was in grade 8. It was lunchtime. Hanging out in the classroom with my friends, I was eating my tuna and pickled onion sandwich (home made onions by my Mom) and launching into a story.

I can’t remember the story now, but I do remember suddenly noticing one of my friends completely interrupt me to talk about something. I was incensed. I stopped talking. Eventually, all of my friends noticed my silence. The girl who had interrupted told me to continue.

I refused. I dug in my heels and point blankly refused. “You weren’t listening, so I’m not going to tell you the rest.” And, I didn’t.

When I was even younger and hanging out with adults a fair bit (I was an only child) I used to ponder the magic of these big people. As I watched and listened to them, I marveled at how they could talk and listen at the same time, since their voices were often all going at once.  As a kid, I concluded that you gained an extra sense when you became an adult enabling you to listen and speak simultaneously.

Nope!

Listening. Hearing. Empathizing. Sympathizing. Understanding. Relating. Connecting.

In recent rehearsals for a play, our director would remind us to listen, really truly listen to the others. This advice was always valuable as it pushed a sort of “refresh” button. Anticipating the delivery of your lines and your fellow actors’ lines kills the life in a scene.

In performance, you must hear, and speak the text as if for the first time. If you trust your listening skills, the interpretation will then reveal fresh nuances . The result is a greatly satisfying experience for both the audience and the actor.

In real life, ineffective listening shows up chronically.

Wandering eyes, vacant looks, the chest rising with a breath that is ready to interrupt with their own thoughts that are quickly formulating in their head, or a polite nod, are all clear indicators of an unsuccessful listener. And, they never ask questions. (The good ones do the opposite!)

In business, truly listening to a potential client, and being curious about their needs will most likely be more effective than constantly “pitching” them. I know most of us get annoyed at those badly scripted phone calls from large companies trying to sell us something.

The other day I had one of those calls. At breakneck speed, a guy assumed he had what I wanted and pitched me over and over, using statements like “I want you to..” “You need this..” “I will sign you up today…”. He most certainly was not listening to me as an individual with unique needs.

I stopped him and suggested, gently, that his company should change their tactics to ask what the potential customer would actually like before they assumed they knew best! Their business would most likely improve!

Today, we communicate frequently via the social media (Facebook, twitter, etc..)  where some “interesting” listening is occurring. Some people seem to think that constantly giving people information is a “social” action.

In my mind, being social usually entails listening, conversing, and possibly mutually creating deeper value. The  successful internet socialites shine and are a great example.

What do you think?

What is your best or worst listening experience, and your best or worst “being listened to” experience? I challenge you to observe those around you, and yourself as the art of listening unfolds. I will join you in this venture… honest!

Let me know how it goes.

(Oh, and by the way… one of the most important listening skills to develop is listening to yourself, your instincts, your ideas, your dreams, your loves, your questions, and your ponderings.)

And, for your listening pleasure…..

Playing… “Under The Piano”

Remember those forts you use to build, as kids, in your living rooms, or bedrooms, or outside, using chairs, blankets, and anything that could help to create a cool cave? Worlds far from the one we were in were concocted with no agenda.

Just recently, I relived a similar experience.

Under The Piano Sound Spa” is a new and unique offering by pianist, composer and entrepreneur Craig Addy.

After a short personal conversation with Craig, he invited me to place myself under the grand piano where he would improvise for approximately 40 minutes.

Immediately I was reminded of those childhood living room forts and feeling extra safe and snug. Under the piano, regally awaiting, were shiny gold cushions matching the interior of the piano, a soft bedding of puffy brass blankets and a red velvet one to pull over you for more cozy warmth.

As I tentatively crawled under, I wondered what the protocol really was when you curl up under someone’s piano. I felt awkward but rapidly enjoyed the mysteriously secure feeling.

I closed my eyes and heard the first note, strong but not too loud, and felt the vibration. My body liked the sensation. For the first few minutes, I felt my brain drifting to the banalities of life chores but thankfully the chords would draw me back to the present.

As I permitted myself to relax, my creative juices started to flow.

The sounds transformed as Craig improvised with an awareness of my energy under his piano, producing a symphony of soft notes, thunderous notes, quiet thoughtful notes, sounds of hope, sounds of sadness and melancholy, and soothing sounds.

Images of my past and present life appeared and disappeared.

Befitting, I thought, another childhood memory rose up with Craig’s final notes. I was reminded of me dancing with abandon at age 5 or 6 in the living room of a family friend. Our friend would put all kinds of exotic music on his record player and I would sneak into the living room, my theatre, and dance while the adults visited in the kitchen.

After the session, Craig and I, in my blissfully dopey state, discussed our individual journeys. We acknowledged a musical sadness that had emerged, but also agreed that it was beautiful and not to be ignored. In a society that constantly promotes being positive we tend to hide the sombre side that also has a place in our lives. After all, isn’t good theatre made from comedy and tragedy? The lighter notes that occurred as well balanced the experience nicely.

And, I felt inspired to write!

Under The Piano, to me, is another tool to tap into our creativity and I look forward to experiencing it again. Anything that slows us adults down long enough to open up our “kid” in us, and our imagination, is magnificent.

Thank you Craig! Craig Addy’s In Tune