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The year Twenty Thirteen – That’s Life

January 4, 2014 Leave a comment
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Twenty-thirteen was the year I toured a show of my own for the first time, the first time I visited any part of Canada outside of BC, the year I went out on dates and put myself out there, the year I got perhaps a little too subsumed by day-jobs, the year I accepted Richmond as a home base even as I became intoxicated by being out there performing on the road. It was the year I designed lights and called the shots for a Diversity Talent Show, gave tours of a National Historic Site, and was given the delightful  news that “we’re going to write you a song”. It was the year I performed a creepy puppet show while a guy did cocaine off a passport in the front row, had the biggest role in the opening number in a musical (in concert), became a bartender, worked for nine employers (and myself), auditioned for one show both in Vancouver AND Toronto, was nominated for an OVATION! Award, and was picked as one of Richmond’s 30 under 30.

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONWhen I put a chunk of it in one paragraph like that, it doesn’t sound half bad.

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My financials spreadsheet tells me I earned 21114.94$ in a combination of pre- and post-tax income, not including my Fringe tour, as I lost money on that. Of that money, just under half of it went into savings. A bit of breathing room so that I don’t feel pressured against, say, taking days off work to go to auditions, or months off to possibly lose money performing in Fringe Festivals. I keep my expenses low with good habits, luck, friends, biking and skytraining rather than driving, and the fact that I’m a bachelor without kids. I also live frugally in a single-room accommodation in a building I expect will get demolished in 2014. That’s probably the biggest reason.

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I am grateful that I have been able to find a number of employers who are content with seeing me disappear for a month or two at a time, pursuing my performing career. Hopefully those opportunities will build up enough that I can make a more complete transition at some point.

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Perhaps it’s a credit and a curse to the standards I hold for myself that I’m disappointed that I was only involved in five large-scale productions this year… even if one of those productions I wrote, self-produced, and performed in four different cities over the course of two and a half months. A far cry from the ~12 productions I was a part of in 2012. I also nearly doubled my yearly income. These two things are perhaps not unrelated. 😛

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Regardless, I now know I can earn enough to support myself as I pursue what excites me. I just need to do more pursuing!

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This year was also the year I had a couple of hits with my blog, including one article, A First Fringe Tour – By The Numbers , which has had over 480 hits and was read and shared by people I deeply respect. It was even discussed in a university classroom! Exciting! So now, after a bit of a hiatus, I think I’m about ready to get back to blogging. But first, what the heck was I up to in 2013?

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My theatre life this past year:
Revue at the Revue as Jesus, Santa, and others, if you count the first hour or two of 2013. 🙂
– Nominated for ‘Outstanding Gypsy – Male’ at the 2013 Ovation Awards
– ‘The Boss’ in Fighting Chance’s ‘Side Show‘ (in concert)
– Mr. Zapatella and chorus in APPLAUSE! Musicals’ ‘Fiorello!‘ (also in concert.)
– Singing, creeping, having an all around marvelous time as Filch (and a prisoner, and a thief, and so forth) in Seven Tyrants’ production of Beggar’s Opera. (They’re remounting in March, at the Jericho Arts Centre! Go see it! My dear friend, Chris Lam, will be putting his own marvelous spin on the role as I will be busy with Floyd Collins during the run.)
– Wolf Mountain Writing Collective, staged reading of my short ten-minute piece, What I’d Be Without You, with the lovely Mika Laulainen.

Fiorello!

(Photo: Wikipedia)

The Hatter, The Hatter, so much The Hatter! Who knew you needed to write all your publicity for a June production, way back in February! Hiring a (wonderful) photographer for publicity photos, and putting together the script, and props, and travel plans to take me (economically) from Vancouver to London to Ottawa to Toronto to Saskatoon and back home, finding stage managers in each city, finding ways to get around once I am within each city, designing and printing posters and business cards, oh, and performing the show 34 or so times, plus previews and tech runs… Looking forward to getting back to it in Regina and Vancouver this year!
– Indulging my over-the-top-creepy joys as Panduin The Puppeteer in Judge Dee’s Haunted House at the Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens, also with Seven Tyrants. A twenty-minute play that starts every ten minutes, this amounted to three hours of performing (without breaks) every night, eighteen performances each night, for a week. And we sold out! Pretty much every run! Far more successful than ANYONE was expecting. Lots of leaping on bannisters and singing in RIDICULOUS pitches. Loved it. And now, back to applications for The Hatter for next year’s Fringe festivals, for which I shall update you in a couple of weeks!
– Awkward Stage fundraiser, Baby It’s Cold Outside, of which I was a chorus member with a puppet for all of a minute, so I’m not sure that one really counts. If we include that, let’s also include singing a zombie-themed Christmas song for a room full of people holding ukeleles, which, by the by, is an awesome idea for a date.

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My day-jobs this past year:
(with a whole lot of acting in them, really!)
Science Facilitator – Science World!
The occasional centre-stage show as well. I am now trained for the Grossology, Bubbles, Balloons, and Hot Stuff shows. 🙂
Heritage Interpreter – Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Leading tours and teaching school programs.
Bartender – Gateway Theatre
Unexpected and enjoyable!
Standardized Patient – Medical student exams
Pretending to be ill!
Simulations ActorJustice Institute of BC
Pretending to be a criminal, witness, or a victim!
Convention worker – BBW International
No, not THAT ‘BBW’. Though I did get to dress up in full Scottish garb (kilt and sporran and all) for a week at a Urology Congress!
Walk Leader – Creatures of the Night – Stanley Park Ecology Society
At those times when you’re so busy you can’t possibly do anything else, and then a good, old friend phones you up and offers you a job. So much fun!
Voting Officer – Elections BC
One long day, but definitely an interesting experience.
Stage Director/Manager – Culture Club Diversity Talent Show – Richmond Multicultural Community Services
Amazingly comprehensive, in that I used skills I’ve learned from so many different places. Lighting design, working with youth, directing, stage management, producing… marvelous experience.
Background Actor – A big, highly talked about film.
I was an extra in a film for the first time in a year or so!
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Actor – The Hatter and others
I may not have made money on it this year, but producing my own darn show is certainly a job, as is much of the acting work above, gosh darnit. 🙂

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And now onto 2014, where I already have workshifts scheduled with three different employers, and have  the chance-of-a-lifetime to put all that silliness aside for a couple of months and focus on a travelling production of Floyd Collins.

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Hey, now I’m excited! Yay!

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And, as I have a microphone here on the desk with me, here’s a song about hoping for the future. Don’t read into the darker suicide-y bit to it. That part isn’t relevant.

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What are you looking forward to in 2014?

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Fringe By The Numbers: My Reactions

September 7, 2013 7 comments
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My last post, A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers, already has the second most hits of anything I’ve posted onto my blog. Thank you everyone for your responses and for sharing it around. Here are my own thoughts:

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* * * * *

Yes, I lost money. A fair chunk of change. 1,671.16$ , to be precise. But I’ve been spending money on learning experiences for a number of years now, beginning with seven years of university, followed by the National Voice Intensive last year, and now, this tour. Was I hoping to at least break even? Of course! But to take a wider view, I traveled to amazing cities I’d never visited, had grand adventures, even kissed a lady or two, and got to tell a story worth telling to hundreds of people (okay, 534 people + ushers + technicians) across the country.

For my own personal growth, I desperately needed to travel. It was all 100% worth it. Over the course of two and a half short months, I learned a heck of a lot about theatre, life, and myself, and I can’t wait to get back out there next summer (if the Fringe lotteries are willing to let me).

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ON* * * * *

As a former professor once told me as he suffered through the first couple of years of his own theatre company, it’s not at all uncommon for businesses to lose money for their first two or three years of operation. This was my first ever tour. Hopefully now I have a tiny base of fans in each city, who might possibly come out and see a show of mine in the future!

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* * * * *

In each city, to keep this numerical, I think I knew 1 (London), 3 (Ottawa), many (Toronto), and 1 (Saskatoon) people, respectively. No hometown advantage for me.

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* * * * *

Hey Fringe Festival volunteers! You know how you happily exclaim to audience line-ups about how lovely it is that you haven’t raised your ticket price from 10$ for the past fifteen years or so? Well, inflation exists, and what you’re telling artists is that they’ve been earning less and less per ticket for every year for the past decade and a half.

I did not once hear a single complaint on the street or in the theatre about Saskatoon’s 12$/14$ ticket prices. Just sayin’.

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* * * * *

Also, it’s interesting that even with a 2$ administrative fee and GST being factored in somewhere, I still came out earning 11.20$ per ticket in Saskatoon, compared to 9.94$ in London, 9.35$ in Ottawa, and a mere 8.92$ per ticket in Toronto.

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* * * * *

Speaking of which, that shortfall in Toronto exists almost entirely due to the five-pack and ten-pack deals in that city. While I love having frequent fringer packs exist, compare Toronto’s 7.5$ tickets to Vancouver’s frequent fringer packs, which still offer 9$ per ticket to the performer. Seriously consider raising those frequent fringer rates, Toronto. You certainly have a reputation as being a place where performers don’t make any money. I enjoyed my time in the city, but 7.5$ tickets are hurting your reputation and hurting a performer’s chances of being able to break even in your city.

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* * * * *Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2

Every city is so different when trying to figure out the right number of flyers and posters. Before I set out, I pre-printed 25 posters and 500 business card flyers for each city. Rookie mistake, as I learned when I saw other performers in London editing their poster files for upcoming cities so as to include London review quotes. Come Saskatoon I finally began taping quotes onto my posters, but printing posters for each upcoming city as I go seems to be the smarter solution.

So what are the right numbers? Well, 25 posters and 500 business cards felt alright for a sleepy Fringe like London, but I could probably have put up 75 posters in Ottawa, whereas getting 25 posters up in Toronto in anywhere worth looking, proved difficult. Also in Toronto, I ran out of flyers before the fringe was half over – I could probably have handed out 1500. As an experiment, I brought 1000 flyers to Saskatoon, and despite the Fringe’s smaller size, still gave out most of them. So every city is different, and I’ve still more to learn! (It also makes a difference as to how many people you have out there, flyering – being on my lonesome can be a downside when it comes to talking up enough lines to find an audience.)

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* * * * *

I gotta admit, it was disappointing to be one of 36 shows in Toronto not reviewed by Now Magazine. A few ‘N’s might have helped! (For a few more numbers, there were 148 shows in the Toronto Fringe Festival this year. 112 of them received a Now Magazine blurb and set (or lack thereof) of shiny ‘N’s.)

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* * * * *

In London, I recall one performer saying that two or three days before the festival opened, they visited Tourism London to ask for Fringe information, and the person there had no idea the festival was even happening. At Nuit Blanche, I (in full Hatter garb) was asked by several people when the Fringe Festival was beginning. That was the second-to-last night of the festival. It seems London is a hard place to get word out about the festival, which was evidenced by my having zero advance ticket sales, compared to 9 in Ottawa, 23 in Toronto, and 15 in Saskatoon. Toronto is very much more of an advance ticket city than the others – perhaps there’s more of a traditional theatre-going habit there? Or is there less financial disincentive to buy advance tickets in Toronto (when compared to additional fees other festivals add onto advance ticket purchases)?

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The Hat* * * * *

I’m honestly impressed with myself that I was able to keep my grocery bills down to size, even while on tour. Chalk it up to a combination of kind billets, hunts for grocery stores, and restraint whenever out and about with fellow performers. You guys feel free to order your meals at the bar; I’ll just wait until I get back to the food I bought with my big grocery trips on the day before each festival began.

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* * * * *

I didn’t have nearly as strong a show at the beginning of June as I did come mid-August. To be honest, it took me until Toronto to figure out the core of what the show was about – a man trying to get home – and so my show pitches for line-ups weren’t great for the first 2/3rds of my tour. Please don’t take any of the above as me making excuses for perhaps not being as financially successful as I would have preferred: I fully accept my tour as it was.

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Which is to say, a brilliant, daring adventure. 🙂

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For another view into my time on the fringe, as well as my original By The Numbers post, I also put up a By The Emotions post which you might enjoy.

As with before, if you think any of this may be helpful to someone out there, please share it on! I hope these posts are worthwhile for someone else out there. And if you have any reactions of your own, please add them to the comments below!

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Happy Fringing!

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers

September 3, 2013 10 comments
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A First Fringe Tour by the Numbers: For my 2013 inaugural tour of The Hatter.

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London audience numbers:
# of performances: 10
# of comps to media in audience: 4
# of comp VIP tickets: 13
# of comp Trouper tickets recorded: 1
# of comp performer tickets: 16
# of paying audience members: 54
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 5.4
# of audience members (total): 87
Average size of audience: 8.7
# of shows without a single paying audience member: 3
# of advance tickets sold: 0
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.94$

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Ottawa audience numbers:
Number of performances: 9
# of comps to media in audience: 4
# of comp VIP tickets: 2
# of comp Promo tickets: 2
# of comp volunteer tickets: 9
# of comp performer tickets: 3
# of advance tickets sold: 9
# of paying audience members: 81
Average # of paying ticket holders per show: 9
# of audience members (total): 101
Average size of audience: 11.2
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.35$

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Toronto audience numbers:
Number of performances: 7
# of comps to media in audience: 8
# of comps (poor friend): 1
# of comp volunteer tickets: 11
# of comp 10x10x10 tickets: 33
# of comp VIP tickets: 8
# of advance tickets sold: 23
# of paying audience members: 90
Average # of paying audience members: 12.86
# of audience members (total): 151
Average size of audience: 21.57
Average size of audience, not including 10x10x10: 16.71
Average ticket price paid to me: 8.92$

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Saskatoon audience numbers:
Number of performances: 7
# of comps to media in audience: 3
# of comp staff tickets: 1
# of comp company (performers with password) tickets: 27
# of comp volunteer tickets: 20
# of comp promo tickets (???): 16
# of advance tickets sold: 15
# of paying audience members: 118
Average # of paying audience members: 16.86
# of audience members (total): 195
Average size of audience: 27.86
Average ticket price paid to me: 11.20$

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EXPENSES:

Failed Fringe application fees:
Edmonton: -36.75$
CAFF lottery: -25$
Winnipeg: -20$
Vancouver: -50$
Nanaimo: -25$
Victoria: -28$
San Francisco: -35.60$
Total: -220.35$

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Pre-tour expenses:
Photographer for promo shots: ~-100$
New hat: ~-25$
Hot water urn: -68.95$
Pocketwatch: -13.44$
Total: -207.39$

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London Expenses:
Festival fee: -650$
Props/supplies: ~-11.37$
500 Handbills (business cards): -34.47$
25 posters: -20.95$
Stolen bike light (bought for use in London): -20.33$
Beer for my techie: -11.25$
Total: -748.37$

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Ottawa Expenses:
Festival fee: -632.80$
Cider: -6$
Stage Manager: -100$
500 Handbills (business cards): -34.47$
25 posters: -20.95$
Props/supplies/tea: -7.94$
New backpack (other one broke in so many ways): -58.76$
Extremely generous BYOV venue fee: -80$
Gift to billets: ~-15$
Total: -955.92$

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Toronto Expenses:
Application fee: -27.50$
Festival fee: -750.00$
Stage manager: -80$
Props/supplies/tape/tea: -20.41$
Timbits offered at last four performances: -13.56$
Beer: -14.60$
500 Handbills (business cards): -34.47$
25 posters: -20.95$
Weekly transit pass: -38.50$
Total: -999.99$

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Saskatoon Expenses:
Application fee: -30$
Festival fee: -670.00$
Stage manager: -100.00$
Props: -11.03$
1000 Handbills (business cards): -51.41$
25 posters: -20.95$
Beer: -23.50$
Gift to billet/volunteers: -7.74$
Total: -914.63$

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Travel costs to each city:
Plane ticket from Vancouver to London, through family friend: -120$
Suitcase-full-of-props as extra bag on Westjet: -21.00$
Greyhound to Ottawa: -59.33$
Cost to take suitcase-full-of-props on greyhound to Ottawa: -16.95$
Gas money to artist for ride to Toronto: -20$
Transit tokens in Toronto while waiting for Saskatoon: -53$
Greyhound (43 hours) Toronto to Saskatoon: -139.56$
Cost to take suitcase-full-of-props on greyhound to Saskatoon: -15$
Greyhound (25 hours) Saskatoon to Vancouver: -110.78$
Cost to take suitcase-full-of-props on greyhound back to Vancouver: -15.75$
Total: -571.37$

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Expenses back home:
Rent/storage costs in Richmond for 2.5 months = ~550$
Total: -550.00$

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INCOME:

London Income:
Donation: 5$
Ticket sales at door: 532.00$
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.94$
Total: 537.00$

INVISIBLE!
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Ottawa Income:
6 two-for-one ticket sales (5$): 30$
17 five/ten show passes (7$): 119$
9 Advance ticket sales (10$): 90$
40 ticket sales at door (10$): 400$
stage managed a show twice: 30$
Average ticket price paid to me: 9.35$
Total: 787.00$

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Toronto Income:
23 advance ticket sales (9$ to me): 207$
41 ticket sales at door (10$): 410$
3 Five-pack (7.5$): 22.50$
17 ten-pack (7.5$): 127.50$
6 performer (6$): 36$
Average ticket price paid to me: 8.92$
Total: 803.00$

INVISIBLE!
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Saskatoon Income:
Ticket breakdown made very complicated with 2$ deducted from each ticket for administrative fees, plus GST removed from payout on each ticket. (Saskatoon is the only Fringe Festival that does this.)
Donation: 47.75$
Paid by drunks for a photo taken with me: 3$
Payout from festival: 1322.11$
Average ticket price paid to me: 11.20$
Total: 1369.86$

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Other numbers:
Hours on greyhound buses: 8+43+25 = 76 hours.
Food not considered: Grocery/food bill, as it was kept to my usual 200$ per month.
Days away: 71
Homes graciously opened to me to stay in: 5
# of stars in London review (London Free Press): 3 (out of five)
# of stars in Saskatoon review (The StarPhoenix): 4.5 (out of five)

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Total Expenses:
Failed Fringe application fees: -220.35
Pre-tour expenses: -207.39$
London expenses: -748.37$
Ottawa expenses: -955.92$
Toronto expenses: -999.99$
Saskatoon expenses: -914.63$
Travel costs to each city: -571.37$
Expenses back home: -550.00$
Total: -5168.02$

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Total Income:
London income: 537.00$
Ottawa income: 787.00$
Toronto income: 803.00$
Saskatoon income: 1369.86$
Total: 3496.86$

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Cost/Tuition for a two and a half month cross-country adventure: 1671.16$

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The numbers are bit surprising. I’ll put my thoughts/reactions in my next post in a few days. Hope this is useful for some of you out there to see as well! Feel free to leave your feedback/advice/comments below. 🙂

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Hatter is a 4.5/5 star show! Wow!

August 5, 2013 5 comments
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I don’t really have a blog post to go along with this, other than to say that for all we artists aren’t supposed to listen to reviews, it is SO validating to see the work I’ve put into this show over the past couple of months take it from a three star show in London to 4.5/5 stars here in Saskatoon!

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Go take a read!

Actor Andrew Wade shows fantastic range, flipping a switch between wackiness and depression.

“Why can’t we let fantastic things be,” he asks in tears.

Perhaps because they weren’t meant to last, is the silent reply.

In short, you’d be mad to miss this play. – The StarPhoenix

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I would like to contrast this with the first review I ever received for a fringe show, back in 2011, when I performed William vs. The World at Victoria Fringe, and my only review said that “Even sympathetic narcissists should avoid this show.”  Why do I want to contrast it in this way? Because I love the feeling of progress, I suppose.

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The Hatter began as a cobbled together series of experiments in Vancouver, two years ago, and then went on to London Fringe, where for three of its first four performances, THERE WASN’T A SINGLE PAYING AUDIENCE MEMBER IN THE HOUSE. That’s right, three of my first four performances this summer went to tiny houses of strictly media/volunteers/other-performers, all of whom were watching it for free. And since then I have worked on the show, refined elements of it, added in a scene previously cut, and through Ottawa and Toronto, figured out just what its emotional core, its soul, really is. Financially, in both cities I didn’t quite break even, but the show was progressing. I could feel it. And my pitches on the street were also improving.

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Not going to lie, I am loving it here in Saskatoon right now. The street festival atmosphere is fantastic, people yell things at me left and right on the street (due to my costume), the locals are lovely, I’ve had many people ask to take photos with me, people are enjoying my show, and now a review that just blows me out of the water.

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Well played, Saskatoon. Well played. I shall certainly come here again. And I get to enjoy your company for four more performances and seven more days!

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Cheers,

Andrew Wade

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Passive Income – Part Deux!

April 16, 2013 1 comment

Passive Income – Part Deux!

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Continuing my blogging catch-up (while sitting backstage at Performance Works on Granville Island during a cue-to-cue for Beggar’s Opera)! Late last August, I decided to undertake a consistently-blogged-about passive income project to help me focus my time toward high up-front effort activities which pay off passively over time (see: here), instead of the usual hours-for-pay model (aka: my minimum wage job). In order to do so, I followed Steve Pavlina’s suggestion and made this declaration:

INVISIBLE!
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I will successfully build a new stream of passive income by December 1st, 2012, that generates at least 80$ per month on average, and endures for a minimum of five years, and I will do this in a way that inspires hope and gives value to people anywhere in the world.

INVISIBLE!
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563568_508289692551634_957395844_nNot long after I put this desire out in the world – in October, I believe – a family member came to me with a chance to reduce my rent through offering up a quarter of my place to hold product inventory, so that, while this passive income stream will not last for five years, for at least the last couple of months I have been exceeding my passive income financial goal. I find that, surprisingly and delightfully often, if I announce an intention for some goal, my friends/family/acquaintances/coworkers often very soon come to me with opportunities to help achieve what I am aspiring towards. While I am not a believer in the specific ‘Law of Intention’ philosophy, I put great stock into the idea of ‘ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.’ While there may be an aspect of asking God for help in this, it isn’t about tapping into some mystical force; instead, it is about believing in the good and kind nature of the people I know, about believing in the spirit of community. I am grateful for all your help.

Faith, Fraud & Minimum Wage

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This project does continue in the background, as the storage situation is very temporary. Ultimately, my end goal is to feel financially secure due to my passive income. This may mean that 60% of my daily expenses are covered, as an example. I admittedly don’t expect to achieve this until I am in my 50’s at the earliest.

I have not, probably to my own detriment, been actively pursuing more creative passive income streams. Instead, I have been overfilling my life with minimum wage workshifts, rehearsals, and administrative preparation for fringe festivals this summer. I really should try to take a week off sometime and spend it exclusively on important schemes… but I doubt that will happen voluntarily if opportunities for definite money (workshifts) exist. I do worry for my financial future once my current cheap living situation evaporates in the near future.

One thing I have been doing is researching dividend stocks as a much more potent place to earn, essentially, a slightly more risky but more lucrative form of interest. Certainly a few steps above my 1.2% free savings account. Not that I can make investments at the moment, but I am excited for the opportunity to do so in the future! I am amazed at how excited I am at the idea of making one-time choices to, say, put 100$ away into stocks, in order to have that 100$ earn 5$ a year, every year, for the rest of my life. I really like the idea of one-time sacrifices which lead to continued, constant, secure boosts through the future.

So perhaps it’s time to make a new goal! How about this:

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By November 1st, 2013, my passive income streams will equal at least 120$ per month on average, as a mix of interest and creative enterprises, and I will do so in a way that inspires hope and gives value to people anywhere in the world.

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Seems ambitious yet possible. And then I’ll keep raising the bar higher as time goes on.

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Keep calm and carry on,
Andrew Wade