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Choose Your Own Blog Post

   
There are so many things that have happened in the past month which deserve their own full blog post write-ups, but as is evident on my front page here, I just haven’t been able to squirrel away enough time and mental energy to do them justice. SO, I figure, why not give a brief summary of the amazingness that has been the past month of my life, and ask you what you would like me to expand upon!
   
Leave a message in the comments here (or on the facebook link, or via a twitter message, whatever) if there is anything below that you’d like me to focus a post on. 🙂
   
– One of the last words of advice our dear Floyd Collins director, Peter Jorgensen, gave us, was to adopt the philosophy of ‘instant forgiveness’. If something goes wrong onstage, AND THINGS WILL GO WRONG ONSTAGE, instant forgiveness, move on with the show. This is far from the first time I’ve heard these words, but it is a piece of advice I really do need to continue working at taking to heart.
   
– Balancing momentary opportunities to work in my career field (such as this amazing 2.5 month contract with Floyd Collins!) with stringing along dayjob employers with the odd shift here and there, whenever I can, so that I can still pay rent when the contract ends.
   
– Working with people who have found a way to drop their day-jobs and do this full-time. How they live. How they’re  not necessarily as dayjob-free as I first assumed.
   
– Our culture’s  unhealthy phobia surrounding talking about our salaries and what we make, where.
   
Jesse L. Martin saw our show!Original RENT cast member Jesse L. Martin came to see Floyd Collins. Yep. What it means to me to get seen by a celebrity, and the strangeness of fandom celebrity worship.
   
– So, in my week off, I MAY have performed, erm, a burlesque routine as the Eighth Doctor at a Doctor Who burlesque show put on by my dear friends at Geekenders. In this routine, I MAY have written up a parody of Mister Cellophane, and stripped down to my underwear. I have also never, prior to this, ever even taken my shirt off, onstage. I am always looking for performance opportunities that challenge me! Geekenders/Fairlith/et all, thank you so much for having enough faith in me to risk letting me out up there. Oh, and my sister may have heard about the show somewhere and attended it. (awkward?)
   
– Burlesque audiences are perhaps the best audiences. I mean, I had just been performing in an amazing musical for three weeks with a stunning amount of talent onstage, but the sheer energy and boisterousness of those three hundred people in the Rio, all loudly cheering and whooping and loving life, the feeling off all that delight just shocking joy into my system as I stood onstage, there… Wow. That is somethin’ else.
   
– It’s amazing what audience expectations will do. A proper hoity-toity theatre musical theatre audience expects strong choreography, brilliant singing, good acting, and at least a passable script. Exceed those expectations, and they will love the show.  That burlesque audience, on the other hand, expected to see from its performers a love of Doctor Who, a solid costume, sexy dancing, and someone stripping down to pasties and underwear through the course of their performance. It was a wondrous thing to see the shock and delight they had to see me actually sing something onstage! With character acting! Something I’d written myself! Wow! Expectations exceeded. (Which is great, because it also allowed me to get away with only a passable costume and less-than-experienced, erm, sexy moves.)
   

Burlesque routine, pre-clothing-removal. Photo: Stephen Gray.

Burlesque routine, pre-clothing-removal.
Photo: Stephen Gray.

– What am I willing to do onstage, and what am I not willing to do?
   
– Fringe festival preparations for this summer, or, How I am managing to make the exact same mistakes and good choices as last year.
   
– How does someone write a show called ‘The Most Honest Man In The World’? Has Andrew developed an ego?
   
– I am consistently surprised at how clearly I regress as a person when in a state of desperately-needing-sleep. It’s almost like it’s a direct regression through the years — I start feeling emotional pangs for old flames, take on old physical quirks like holding one arm behind my back… there may be more truth than I know to the old adage that we are everyone we once were.
   
– I fly somewhere, and promptly am sick. Just like what happened last year with London, Ontario. What’s up with that?
   
– Billeting. What it means, and my experiences staying with people volunteering their homes, across the country.
   
– And finally, this is a thing that happened: http://www.tift.ca/floyd-collins-goes-ahead-without-sets-costumes-or-props-press-release-april-7-2014/ . Essentially, a moving company, Midland Van Lines, picked up our set and costumes and promised us a delivery time of 5-7 days to get those items from Vancouver to Barrie, Ontario, in time for our second leg of our tour. Those items were not delivered, and now we are reblocking the show in a fashion that really is quite reminiscent to the old SATCo black box theatre days as a student at UVic. The show must go on!
   
So aye, there’s a good summary of what I’ve been up to, this past month. Back into tech in an our or so. Anything you’d like me to expand on in a full post?
   
   
Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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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London Fringe – Gratitude (The Hatter)

June 11, 2013 3 comments
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A hearty hello from overcast London, Ontario!

My first week on tour with The Hatter has been a whirlwind, strange and dangerous and wonderful and trying. But above all else, I am grateful.

So much to say and so little time to type it out, so I shall be rather stream of thought with this post. Let’s start with the flight from Vancouver to London, with a stopover in Calgary.

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PRO-TIP #1: When boarding an airplane, take note of how long they expect the flight will take. Consider that for the first and last half hour of the flight, you will NOT be allowed to go and use the restrooms. For a flight lasting only an hour and a half, this means a relatively short window during which you can relieve yourself. And YES, that turbulence on the way down will make the landing seem awwwwwwwfully long as it plays hopscotch with your bladder, and turn that seatbelts-on light into a demon dancing a merry jig above your head.

Magpie at the Calgary Airport

My first photo ever shared from my new i-Thingamabob.

I was only in Calgary for a couple of hours, so I stayed in the airport. In the terminal, a magpie (so someone said) was flying about, stealing fries and generally having a wonderful time.

For the flight from there to London, because I was flying stand-by… Westjet gave me one of the nice seats with extra legroom, and I even had the whole row to myself. Ah, economy class luxury. I decided to embrace the moment by watching some Business News Network on the back of the seat in front of me, to celebrate my economic upgrade in society.

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PRO-TIP #2: Flying stand-by isn’t difficult! And if there’s a better seat on the plane, they’ll probably give it to you! But if there isn’t a seat on the plane… well, make sure you have a phone number for your ride waiting at the other end.

Upon landing in London, as I waited for my luggage to come off the carousel (PRO-TIP #3: give yourself time to pack. Or you may end up doing it all in a frantic huff the night before and end up accidentally bringing three small towels), I was immediately confronted by another Fringe performer, the lovely Tara Travis, who recognized me from somewhere! Hah! So that was fantastic.

One of my fantastic billets (billeters?), Allister Cameron, who, along with his wife Carolyn, recently had one of their life experiences turned into a play by their son, Ken, picked up Tara and I from the airport, gave us a tour around town, and dropped us by the Fringe office. There, the lovely Kathy Navackas, whom I have never before met in person, immediately exclaimed my name and gave me a hug. Seriously. So much love.

So I went from the worry of traveling on my own to a city where I know no one except the performer I’m sharing my venue with (the marvelous Jeff Leard)… to chatting with a fellow performer at the luggage carousel, being toured around town, and given hugs by near-strangers!

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PRO-TIP #4: Hugs are awesome.

On the other side of the coin, throughout the flights and over the first couple of days, I was rather frantically trying to learn all my lines. Apparently speaking for fifty minutes straight is a lot of words. 😛

It really does help when they are YOUR words, but even still, it helps your tech person a lot in terms of hitting lighting and sound cues when you… paraphrase a little less than I was for the first couple of performances. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I landed in London, coming off the plane, I had a headache. Ah well, no worries. Three days later, come opening performance, the headache was STILL there. So, half an hour before my first performance, I did the reasonable thing and swallowed a tylenol, washed down with a glass of water, to ease the headache so I could perform without significant head-pain.

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PRO-TIP #5: DO NOT DRINK A LARGE AMOUNT OF LIQUID BEFORE GOING ONSTAGE. Rookie mistake.

So here we are, five minutes before my opening performance, and I am doing that two-year-old gotta-pee dance backstage. Unfortunately, the washro0m is located THROUGH the stage, THROUGH the audience, over by the front door. I think I can make it. I’ll forget all about it when I’m onstage. I can make it. I can make it. I can make it.

I don’t think I can make it.

en: A glass of water / de: Ein Glas Wasser / t...

The Enemy.

PRO-TIP #6: Water bottles are not intended as receptacles for urine.

Yep. Pee’d in my water bottle before going onstage. Like a boss.

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PRO-TIP #7: That’s just gross.

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The next day, I STILL had that headache, and my lovely billeter, Carolyn, suggested it might be tension, nerves and the like, which makes sense, given the situaton. So she suggested I go have a nice hot bath to ease my muscles. Seemed like a good idea. And I hadn’t had a proper bath in probably two years! (There isn’t a tub where I live.) So I ran the water for entirely too long, had to wait at least half an hour for the water to cease being at scalding temperature, then submerged myself and tried to relax my weary bones and muscles. To some success.

Then… something dangerous happened.

As I stood up to get out of the tub, I immediately felt far too heavy, my head was swimming, and I immediately recognized that this was a trouble situation. Somehow, I managed to flick the fan on, stick my head under the shower, and turn the cold water on. Which was cold… for a moment, then I realized I had set it to hot accidentally… then I realized that I couldn’t stay vertical to turn the water back to cold and that I needed to get down to the ground now or I would fall down and smash my head on something, so I slunk down onto the fuzzy mat beside the bath, incapable of moving from that spot for several minutes, barely staying awake, not able to keep my eyes open.

Essentially, I passed out, or went right to the verge of doing so. Never had that happen before.

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PRO-TIP #8: Don’t die.

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Half an hour later, I was fine. No worries there. I think a combination of a strange sickness, all the hot water, and my naturally low blood temperature just meant that there was no blood in my brain at that point.

Later that day, I asked a kind gentleman which way it was to the bus stop, and he offered me a ride to the stop. He was driving off that way anyway, he said. He was giving a chipmunk a ride to the park anyway, so why not drop me off down the road? This is when he brandished a cage containing a trapped chipmunk. Part of an ‘infestation’, apparently. Anyway, at the bus stop, I realized for the first time that my headache may be accompanied by a fever.

So, my first few days were a little rough, physically. That said, all the performers around me have been no end of supportive, with hilarious NO Shows every night (not to be confused with no-shows or Noh shows), kind words, and an all around happy atmosphere. The incredible magician Keith Brown (whose business card is a playing card HOW COOL IS THAT), is even letting me use his bike to get around town! And now I am healthy! Yay!

Something that I find startling about all this is not just how grateful I am to be out here, but how grateful traveling is making me feel for everything I have at home in BC as well. I’m thrilled to be continuing my educational and adventurous experience here on the tour, but also suddenly SO EXCITED for all the amazing opportunities and people waiting for me back at home. Considering I am performing a play about a homesick man, perhaps this isn’t so strange. But still, the future is bright.

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PRO-TIP #9: You’re never alone in your battles.

I have six more performances to go here in London, and then, off to Ottawa! Then Toronto! Then… a mystery spot (perhaps New York for a week), then Saskatoon.

Almost impossible to believe I have only been here for a week! Right, now it’s time to make some event pages for the other cities, head downtown, and hand out handbills in the hopes of finding a few more audience members to have some fun at my performance tonight.

I leave you with a comment left by a happy audience member: “It got me in the feels.”

As has this trip, for me, thus far.

INVISIBLE!
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Stay grateful,
The Hatter
(aka Andrew Wade)

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Two reviews, four years too late.

(These reviews are now up on The Martlet’s website at http://martlet.ca/2013/05/machete-avenue-and-tortoise-boy/ )

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About four or so years ago, I took a CD and a chamber play from the box-of-things-to-review in The Martlet’s office with the promise to write up a review and send it in.

Two years ago, I graduated. Tonight, the CD and the play still sit on my desk. So these reviews are a story about my inability to finish a to-do list or work without a deadline. They are also a story about how stubbornly honest I am. I made a promise. Here I am fulfilling it. Far too late to matter to anyone but myself, but here we go:

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Chad Michael Stewart‘s Machete Avenue

ZIK431117.1336682435.580x580(save me from myself.) When I first picked up this CD, with its darkened image of a person seemingly drowning as roots reach out through his cheeks, his hands, and the hollows of his eyes… I was worried it’d be full of screaming metal tracks attempting to summon angry parents into their teenager’s basement bedrooms. (please don’t fade.) A CD like that I would have listened to once, written something about how the CD wasn’t ‘for me’, and sent off a review within a week. Machete Avenue isn’t like that. (another blank face calms the angry crowd.)

Machete Avenue exists in the room just beside ‘I really like this album’, which is to say, there are moments in life when it just feels appropriate. (beautifully broken.) Right for what’s happening in my life. Stewart writes plaintive, sad, spiritual odes to doubt and something which isn’t quite heartbreak, but rather, the loss of slowly drifting apart. (I’ve become your sad song.)

(without hope there is nothing left but empty frames.) With song titles like Crosses and Mercy of Angels, there is something inescapably Christian about this album, but rather than bursting into praise, it sings the stories of a man in despair. (we have to find a way to let the grace remain.)

His emotions are real, raw, and relatable, which is why I keep coming back to these tracks when I need music to share in my darker thoughts. (what takes years to build takes seconds to fall.) After at least four years, I still listen to this CD. And now I can do so without such a lingering sense of guilt.

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Tortoise Boy, a chamber play by Charles Tidler

tortoise-boy-charles-tidler-paperback-cover-artIn my defence, not long after chose this play from the box of items-to-be-reviewed, I was placed in a class with Charles as my professor. Reviewing his work in a campus newspaper seemed to me to be a tactically and tactfully poor choice at the time. But no more!

Chamber plays are works written as though for the stage, but which are either intended solely to be read, or are intended to be performed in the sparsest manner, without sets or costumes. In Tidler’s case, this play takes the form of stories told by the characters, rather than scenes. Within the first fifteen pages we hear innocent voices and dark tales of alcohol and child abuse, murder, and Clifford Olsen. Hints of dialogue litter the pages, with moments of interaction between the characters, but we are never allowed to sit in any present moment or breathe in a scene. Instead, we stay detached, living within the current storyteller’s memories and point of view.

Sing me any song you want to sing except the song I cannot hear.

Like poetry, the play jumps, flits from moment to emotion to moment, all while forcing us to move at the pace of performance.

Does juxtaposing a sad story with a laugh track make it even sadder?

The drowned man is the only one still allowed in the pool.

Many of his phrases are brilliant, witty, and poetic. The tales the characters tell have the ability to tug on your heartstrings. But it all comes together like a book of short stories – all with the same author, and a similar style. I like the parts, but when the poetry and form separates everything into its own world, a concluding, satisfying sentiment is difficult to find.

And now I can clear a corner of my to-do table, and breathe a little more freely.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
UVic Alumnus (BA, BFA)

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Predicting the Future: The UVic of 2063.

(I wrote this piece originally a month ago for a competition in The Ring, the University of Victoria’s self-published vanity newspaper. The competition asked for visions of what campus might look like in fifty years’ time. Predicting the future is always fun!

It wasn’t chosen as one of their winners.)

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University of Victoria sign at campus entrance...

University of Victoria sign at campus entrance. (Wikipedia)

The UVic of 2063.

The UVic of 2063 focuses on the strengths of the university system. Acknowledging the value of social and career connections made while at university, almost every building on campus comes equipped with cafes serving free coffee and tea for students (with charges for treats and fancier drinks). Large seating areas are the norm, rather than the exception.

Within classrooms, this atmosphere of shared experiences continues, with most courses focusing on in-community projectwork and small group discussions. One perhaps startling transformation has been the elimination of lecture classes, whose material is now almost exclusively packaged as digital ‘pre-homework’ to be accessed before classes even officially begin. As a result, most lecture halls on campus have been converted into performance spaces or renovated to accomodate multiple smaller classes. Esteemed ‘celebrity’ professors occasionally holographically lead classes from the comfort of their own homes.

Also within the classroom, there has been a near-complete transition from chairs to standing desks (save for those with physical difficulties). Standing desks have even now been proven to boost acuity, productivity, and health. And in a world where most students have wearable computers and implanted enhancements powered by the sugars and pulses of their wearers’ bloodstreams, the institution can hardly ask students to set aside their technology before entering the classroom. Instead, classes encourage the use of in-the-moment digital research techniques not only for projects, but also for use while contributing to conversations.

English: University of Victoria library, bikes...

University of Victoria library, bikes, and rabbits. (Wikipedia)

All around campus, building on UVic’s identity as an eco-conscious campus, after decades spent eliminating wildlife on campus – first with the rabbits, which in turn removed the owls and hawks, and then later removing deer after two high-profile car accidents – the university administration has pulled an aboutface and diligently worked to reintroduce as many species to the campus environment as possible. This has included a healthy rabbit population, once architectural improvements were made to secure building foundations from the burrowing animals.

With sustainability in mind, most trees, plants, and bushes on campus now produce edible crops, with students encouraged to snack on apples, plums, pears, blackberries, and raspberries – or even a dandelion leaf or stalk of kale – between classes. While grassy fields still exist outside the main library and as fields for sporting events, all other formerly non-functional lawnspace on university land has been allowed to grow into natural landscapes.

In an effort to promote higher education, the provincial and federal governments have set up two student loan systems, one similar to our current model, and another aimed at making education more accessible, which instead deducts a percentage of the student’s earnings for ten years post-graduation, effectively functioning as an income tax.

One misstep was the construction of a new intestine-inspired building, found to be even more confusing to navigate than Cornett. On the whole, however, the UVic of 2063 is a vibrant, active learning community treasured for its education experience.

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(Not too bad, eh? A few neat extrapolations based on current trends, a few in-jokes for UVicers… well, I like it, anyway.)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.

May 16, 2013 3 comments

This post is featured in The Charlebois Post, as can be seen here.

 

Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.

The Hatter - 900x1350 300dpiThat’s all I wish someone had told me. Though I admit that if someone had, I would have sunnily ignored their wise words and continued on my merry way, because I, the eternal optimist, know I am a very capable individual. After all, I’ve pulled a couple of Fringe shows out of my hat before! How hard can this next one be?

And with that thought, I entirely overlooked the fact that putting on a local Fringe show and putting together a solo tour across several provinces are two VERY different beasts. The Hatter is driving me Mad.

(The name of my show is ‘The Hatter’. In case that wasn’t apparent.)

We are t-minus three weeks until I head to Ontario for the very first time (aside from once as a child being locked in a small room at the Toronto Airport for five hours). T-minus three weeks until I begin a tour of London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon over the course of two and a half months – the longest amount of time I will have ever been away from where I live. And for the life of me I have not been able to work on the show for more than an hour or two.

Oh, I’ve worked long and hard on the PRODUCTION, squeezing time between my minimum wage day-jobs and evening performances of other shows (eight shows a week of Beggar’s Opera, most recently) to fit in promotional photoshoots, to fill out of endless tech forms, to construct press releases I haven’t yet sent out, to conduct desperate searches for stage managers for each city (still looking for London, Ottawa, and Toronto, if you’re in one of those cities and interested!), to schedule performances, to make travel plans, to design posters and handbills, to figure out what to do with my worldly belongings while I’m away, to get costume pieces fitted and created, to figure out props…

But do I have a script? Nope. Do I have lines to learn? Not yet! No time. Just. No. Time.

I only have myself to blame, really. Sure, I could have turned down a workshift here or there, but my rent this month won’t get paid on future possible-maybe-hopefully-ticket-sales.

And there are the timeframe issues. The play doesn’t need to be performed until June 5th. But the production aspects need to get done long before then. I need to figure out how I’m getting out there. I need to print promotional materials, and I need to have stage managers in each city. Everything else seems to need to happen first.

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Care for a cup?

I am still ever the optimist. This show is, after all, based on a show called The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party which I essentially improvised at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe. (The one review I received seemed to like it: http://tiny.cc/194sww .) To be honest, that show mostly came together in the four days between Victoria Fringe and Vancouver Fringe, as I ran out of time there as well, when Victoria Fringe proved all consuming what with my directing one show (BFA: The Musical!), stage managing another (Sonnets For An Old Century), and writing/performing a third (William vs The World).

I was also MOVING from Victoria to Vancouver in those four days. Half an hour before the first performance, a friend and I finally finished making the final set piece. It was that close. But this time was supposed to be different.

This time, I was supposed to swoop across the country with a well-built, well-tested, emotionally and intellectually deep show about The Hatter remembering who he once was, with all the grief and desperation which comes with a man trying to forget his past and be gleefully, cheerfully Mad again.

It can still be that. But right now it is a play about a man desperately trying to find stage managers and wade through technical forms. About a man who somewhere along the line has gotten far too distracted away from the real goal – to create a strong, highly entertaining piece of theatre that has the potential to move people and change lives.

I still have plenty of time. Three weeks to find time to stop being such a producer and to remember how to be an award-winning playwright and actor again. Time to grab some post-its, a sharpie, a pen and a laptop, and remember how to have fun again. How to create again. How to play again.

I miss playtime.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

A Tale of Two Villains (The Prince’s Play)

(This piece was originally written for the GVPTA blog, which you should go check out! And thank you to United Players for inviting me out to see the show.)

 



A Tale of Two Villains
(The Prince’s Play)

I am a man who loves a mustache-twirling, overconfident villain. Be they supervillains, Shakespearean, or WWE heels, there is something about that almost-naive, all-consuming ambition that bypasses my moral core and makes me want them to succeed.

I’m curious who audiences will relate to, and wish success for, in the United Players’ production of The Prince’s Play, running from now until April 21st at the Jericho Arts Centre.

_DSC0936softOriginally written by Victor Hugo as Le Roi s’amuse (and banned the night it opened), now wittily adapted by Tony Harrison, we have in The Prince’s Play a story about two selfish villains who double as drinking buddies.

Holding all the power is the silver-tongued, philandering The Prince of Wales, played skillfully by Edward Foy (better known to me for his work in the D&D webseries Standard Action). As he seduces women with delicate words of true love (while shrugging off frivolous facts such as his wife), his sweet words speak like the loving finale to a great romance. It’s hard not to want him once, just once, to be speaking the truth, even as lines like “prey and predator at peace, that’s love” remind us of the game he is playing.

For his drinking buddy, the Prince keeps as his confidant the plaid-coated court fool, Scotty Scott (James Gill), a figure part Falstaff, part Feste. A common man socially isolated from the rest of the court, Scotty’s cruel jibes at court members may be forgiven when spoken in the presence of The Prince; there, such words make His Royal Highness laugh and speak honestly about the wolfish men The Prince keeps as courtly company. But even after The Prince leaves for another sexual conquest, Scotty keeps up his verbal assault on the rest of the court, so that it is no wonder Tourland (Sean Allen), Lord Gordon (David Wallace), and The Poet Laureate (Shannon Christopher Wright) seek revenge on the belligerent, drunken pest.

Scotty’s one redeeming grace, other than his pessimistic insight, is his Rapunzel-esque daughter, Becky, whom he keeps locked away, save for Sunday trips to church. Stephanie Dyck takes an unbelievably naive and loyal character in Becky and makes her not only believable, but heartbreaking, as she finds herself trapped by all the forces at work in the play.

Here is where most stories would have us root for the vengeful, loving father as he seeks to save his daughter, but even here Harrison counters that move with Scotty’s self-pitying expositions of the ‘why am I losing my happy place’ variety.

Some villains, such as The Prince, offer us escapism – a chance to live inside the skin of men and women more ambitious, calculated, witty, and selfish than ourselves. What he is doing is morally reprehensible, but the power is enticing. Others, like Scotty Scott, instead connect us to our own tragic flaws and speak as words of warning.

In The Prince’s Play, we see both. Who do you find yourself rooting for?

My Theatrical 2012 in Pictures

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Yes, 2012. I realize I am somewhat late with this post, but my 2012 has thus far involved rehearsals for three shows, two full performance runs plus performances in three events, three jobs, and one adventurous and perhaps somewhat tragic not-a-relationship thing. But those are for NEXT year’s post. 🙂

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My Theatrical 2012, in pictures!

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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (as Wakey Faker at The Metro)

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The Mystery of Edwin Drood (as Throttle, with Fighting Chance Productions)

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4Villains.org (just helped out on the set for a day during a weekend trip to Victoria)

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Some filming with HTVBC in Victoria. SO MUCH FUN to be the villainous henchman, bleeding to death, laughing as he declares that he’ll tell the hero NOTHING! Then collapsing. Cliche and awesome.

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Ran a handful of house-party improv workshops! (Image isn’t mine – it comes care of Jayeb333 on Flickr)

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A return to Science World centre-stage shows! (With Grossology and Bubbles! And Balloons added in 2013.)

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The Great American Trailerpark Musical (as Stage Manager, with Ghost Light Projects)

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The Boys In The Band (as Donald, with Ghost Light Projects)

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A Shpadoinkle Musical! (as Frenchie, Elder Cunningham, and others, with Rock Theatre Co.)

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The Romantics (Playwright, for both The YOU Show and IGNITE! 2012 at The Cultch)

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2012 National Voice Intensive

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Golf: The Musical (with Viva Musica’s Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival)

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Building the Theatre

Fortune’s Fools (Assistant Stage Manager with Viva Musica’s Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival)

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Henry V (a semi-remount with KeepItSimple for Victoria Fringe)

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Volunteered as a Rescue Ranger for Vancouver Fringe

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Photo Andrew Wade as Dr. Van Helsing

Dracula: The Musical? (as Van Helsing! Loved the audience reaction from biting through that clove of garlic every night. With Awkward Stage Productions.)

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Closer (as Stage Manager, with Shift Theatre)

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Began working with The Justice Institute as an actor

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Flora The Red Menace (with Applause! Musicals. So good, I joined their next show as well!)

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Awkward Stage fundraiser – Baby It’s Cold Outside (singer)

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Revue at the Revue (as Jesus, Santa, a New Kid On The Block, and others, at A New Year’s bash with Rock Theatre Co.)

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Okay, a relatively full year. Makes me feel a little more like I’ve been using my time well. (Feel free to compare it to last year: https://adewade.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/my-theatrical-2011-in-pictures/ .) Looking forward to another full year!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Katie, sister

November 24, 2012 1 comment

Katie, sister was originally published in Walk Myself Home, an anthology by Caitlin Press aimed at ending violence against women.

Katie, sister

English: Sign of Spring You know spring has sp...

Six years young, Katie wore
a bleached cotton sundress
with papier-maché over wire
hanger wings. It took thirty days,
eight newspapers, and one hair dryer
for me to set her feathers to form,
so she could welcome in the baby Jesus.

I need you. The beach spot.”
A text. Katie. Fourteen years old.
I phoned back – no reply – left a party
mid-conversation, and let
my fifth-hand Chevy roar.

She had always been loved a little less, mistreated
a little more, some family cruelty I couldn’t understand.

Katie gazed over the rioting ocean,
a hastily assembled backpack beside her,
filled with her lunches she never ate, clothes,
her skirted legs dangling from the rockface, kicking
pebbles loose with her heels, her toes reaching
for ground. She looked
like a ballerina torn
from her music-box.
I wiped her mascara and put
my arm around her shoulders,
slender wishbones,
and led her away from the wind.

She fell asleep in the seat beside me,
knees tucked, arms askew at angles.
My coat covered her, chin to ankle.

We roomed together for a time,
her nuzzled into my couch or
pacing about my room. I found
all her new habits, good and ill,
the eggshells she’d keep from omelets
and line up along the windowsill,
a shelf of flightless birds.

She left
when they never asked about her,
took a Greyhound to Ontario,
left me a note, no number,
phones me every month or so,
promising to come back sometime,
but not any time soon.

Don’t be a stranger,
Andrew Wade

Life as Seasons of Television

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

The old season is ending. Long live the new season.

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English: Icon of television that is off

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often consider my life in the metaphor of a television series. (I like structure.)

Lately I’ve been looking at each year as a season. And since I’m not yet too far removed from 20 years of education, each year begins in September. Now, with any good episodic television show, there are individual stories and arcs that last over a few episodes, two-parters and the like, but there are also season arcs, overarching stories and themes that have their feet in every minor story that year. An arc could be a career path, a relationship status, a focus, a series of coincidences, health, friendships, projects… anything, really. What makes a season arc what it is is that pervasive nature with which they are progressed (or obviously stagnate) throughout the whole season. It’s these arcs I’d like to pontificate over.

THIS SEASON’S ARCS

This past year (September 2011 to September 2012), significant arcs I can identify that have made their way into almost every day of my life are (A) my career goal to connect with the Vancouver theatre scene and find paying work doing theatre, (B) reconnecting with my family (as last September included a move close to home), and (C) Being single without letting myself be single. (Like I said, stagnation can be an arc as well.)

English: TV icon

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for (A), as with good TV, it started with a BANG (four days to write and learn and build a Fringe show for Vancouver Fringe?), then fell into a rhythm of better paced growth experiences throughout (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Great American Trailerpark Musical, The Boys In The Band, IGNITE!  and The You Show with The Romantics, Shpadoinkle Day, and the National Voice Intensive), and showed a strong arc build, with my recent paid work at the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. This arc emerged from last year’s season finale (Stage manage, direct, and write/act in three different shows for Victoria Fringe?), and this year’s finale features an echo of last season with a return to Henry V with KeepItSimple, and an unexpected call from Bard on the Beach, asking if I could audition for them – a call I did not receive last year. The finale of this month also helpfully points toward plotpoints for next year, with auditions for paid work and opening hints of Dracula: The Musical.

For (B), seeing my parents and siblings every few days has been a blessing, giving me a sense of roots and the resolve to stay on the mainland and follow my path, rather than find somewhere to hide. An anchor.

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(Photo credit: Walt Jabsco)

And with (C), well… all I’ll say is I went on a total of three dates all year, and that while this year’s season finale won’t be what I’d hoped for, it might be what I need. As with many real television shows, this season will end with a meeting at a party. (Part of the reason I think in arcs is an act of hope and will that there will indeed be a great shift ahead.)

NEXT YEAR’S ARCS?

While I’m no clairevoyant, here are my predictions for possible arcs:

(A) Film and TV. I want to make a big career push in film and TV. I expect a slow build-up with student films, extra-work and the like, but I’ll happily accept a break if it comes. 🙂

(B) The Move Into The City, Proper. Not only does my family look like they may finally move out of Richmond after many years of pondering doing so, but the building I am currently living in is due to be demolished at some undetermined point – most likely in a year’s time. Just in time for the big finale. 😛

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(Photo credit: davydubbit)

(C) Breaking The Social Isolation. Tied to the former arc, perhaps living with other people again, but more importantly, cultivating strong friendships and accepting new beginnings on the relationship front. More evenings spent with people, and not just for the purpose of rehearsing.

(D) Income Boost. Be it a successful passive income project, a lucky opportunity to act in a commercial, or something else, I expect growth from last season’s 10k income figure.

Other possible arcs include: Writing regularly / getting published (though I’m not sure I have the discipline for this in me, quite yet – through perhaps writing/running a D20 game could be a step), bouts of depression, a brilliant romance (apparently there’s still a hopeful romantic in me), connecting to political spheres, and connecting to nature (a highly rare experience throughout all of my life).

NOW.

Now I head off to Victoria for the season finale – a step into my old world to see what experiences, which people, I’ll get to take from it into next season’s arcs, and what will get left behind.

I don’t know what will happen, but I plan on following the metaphor through. I want a big finale, with this season’s arcs resolved or transformed into something new. Next year’s arcs set-up. Surprises. A cliff-hanger. When I return to the mainland, I want my life to have been inexorably changed.

So if you want to help write the next season of me, or become a regular, now’s the best time to make a guest-starring appearance.

I need something big to happen so I can begin next year feeling renewed.


(yes, I ended this on a pun.)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

An Emerging Artist’s Finances – passive income project part 1

August 4, 2012 1 comment

I am striving to be a financially literate artist.

I want to be able to devote as much of my time and energy as I can toward creating great theatre and penning strong writing. Pesky things like groceries and rent, however, do tend to get in the way. And while I am able to keep my expenses low, and I am currently on my first paying theatre contract, I will still be returning to my part-time Joe job in Vancouver as I search for more performing work. (I admit, I do have an awesome, flexible, Joe job, but it’s still not my end career desire.)

Since graduating last April, I have been able to perform in/stage-manage/direct/write at least 21 different plays or short films, working with brilliant companies ranging from Fighting Chance to the Metro Theatre, and with Festivals ranging from Victoria and Vancouver Fringe festivals to the UFV’s Director’s Festival, to (currently) the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. Almost all of these were unpaid opportunities (or break-even ones) that I’ve used to grow as a performer and introduce myself to the Vancouver theatre community. I’ve been able to use my time in this way because I currently live off less than a thousand dollars a month through a mix of careful budgeting and control of expenses. Here’s a sample month’s expenses for me:

  • 200$ : Groceries
  • 300$ : Rent (to live in officespace at the most southern tip of Richmond)
  • 70$ : Professional development (theatre tickets, headshots, etc.)
  • 80$ : Spending money
  • 60$ : Transit
  • ~20$ : Cellphones (pay-as-you-go plans in Vancouver and Victoria)
  • + a portion of yearly budgeted costs for things like bike repair, clothing, dentistry, medical
  • + 10% of earnings to Tithing

Adding it all together, I come up with something called my ‘freedom wage’, which is to say, the amount I need to earn per month, after which I can spend the rest of my time that month doing what I wish (which could include more active-work-for-pay, but doesn’t need to). Let’s somewhat pessimistically put it at 900$. At my current part-time minimum wage job, that amounts to about 12 full-day shifts, or three work days per week.

Cover of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Ri...Earlier this week I picked up and read a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. While the latter part of the book seems out of date, what with its insistence on the stable nature of the American real estate market (yeah, that worked out well…), but most of the book focuses on the differences between income, expenses, assets and liabilities. As a quick rundown, income is the money you take in, expenses are what you spend each month, assets are things you own that earn you money (i.e. money that makes you more money, such as stocks, bonds, possibly real estate), and liabilities are things you own that cost you money (mortgage, car and boat payments, credit card debt). In the book, Kiyosaki suggests rather simplistically that there are money habits that separate individuals stuck in poverty vs. middle class vs. the rich. Essentially, the poor only have income and expenses – they buy food and shelter and whatnot and that’s all they can do. The middle class, he says, take their income, pay their expenses, and then purchase liabilities with what’s left over, such as a larger house, or a car, or that big screen TV. By contrast, he says the rich pay themselves first, BEFORE even paying expenses (to the point of creditors calling), and put that money in assets – in items that earn them more money.

Polls show distrust of public opinion

(Photo credit: jukebox909)

That then creates a positive feedback loop as the passive or portfolio income from those assets provides more income, which allows for more money to be devoted to purchasing assets, until true wealth (not needing to work anymore based on income from assets) is attained. Which isn’t so radical, really, considering how many advisors suggest putting money into savings FIRST, before paying your bills.

Before I get angry comments, yes, I think he’s being rather arrogant about how easy he thinks it is to reach out of poverty. But I’m still earning more than much of the world, so I’ll consider myself rich enough. Besides, for Kiyosaki, rich is a mindset, not a current financial statement.

At the same time as I opened up this book, I started reading through Steve Pavlina‘s passive income series (which began here), where he’s coaching his readers on how to create a passive income stream. To Pavlina, passive income is NOT about being lazy and not needing to work… it’s about being generous. In ordinary employee work-for-hire situations, you create value once for your employer and/or customer, and that’s it. When earning passive income (income that continues to accrue even when you’re not actively working), you are instead sharing value with many people (say, from royalties from something written or recorded), or with the same person many times (say, with real estate rent).

Okay, long-winded but hopefully informative intro, over. What I’m saying is, I want to try to build that asset column and earn some passive income so I can devote more of my time to creating what excites me.

So I am accepting Pavlina’s challenge, and will be slowly reading through his series, following along, and sharing my journey with you.

I also have a side-goal with this series of blog posts, which is to encourage more conversation about finances and money. For whatever reason, while we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, there is often a stigma against discussing such things in our society. I’m not sure why. Are we afraid of looking weak when poor? Of bragging when doing well? Are we insecure when compared to the Joneses? Worried about looking like we care too much about money?

Money is a tool to help us achieve our goals and to grant us freedom to pursue what excites us. Let’s talk about what we’re doing to make that happen.

Here is my goal:

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.

What is 80$? Almost 10% of what I earn each month. One day less I need to work my Joe job each month. Feels doable, but difficult. What’s your goal? Let’s make it happen.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

July 23, 2012 2 comments

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

Protean Personality

Protean Personality (Photo: FeatheredTar)

One of the core, central beliefs by which I live is this: that all human beings are malleable. That I, and all of us, are capable of change, of growth, and of discovery, of making fundamental shifts in our worldview and in how we relate to others and ourselves. I’m a junkie for self-help books, websites, and audioguides ranging from C. S. Lewis’s Christian conundrums to Marc and Angel’s motivational posts to Morty Lefkoe’s limiting beliefs to Steve Pavlina‘s open discussions on everything from worklife to domination-submission. To anyone with an eye for how a person can improve.

In my own, personal story (elaborated on more substantially here), the single most important moment in my life was a time when I was in church, ten years old, with tear-filled eyes, my head down at my knees. At that time, I said to God, ‘I don’t like who I am. Help me become someone else, someone better.’ After that day, I looked to the people around me and observed what I admired about them, then sought to instill those values within myself. Courage. Humour. Honesty. Openness. Community-mindedness. Counsel. Extroverted exuberance.

When I tell this story to people – my origin story, essentially – the most common reaction I receive is this:

Well, you shouldn’t ever have to change who you are.’

Bullshit.

(If you know me in person, you know it’s exceedingly unusual for me to use such strong language. If you don’t know me and don’t consider this word as ‘strong language’, please replace it with a suitably surprisingly bold word of your choosing.)

Don’t change? Bullshit. I say, change who you are. Constantly. Discover the very core qualities that make you, you, and on a deep, gut level, grok them, understand them, and then decide whether or not you want them as a foundation for who you are. Reevaluate. Over and over again. Everything from how often you smile and laugh, to how you spend your time waiting in grocery line-ups, to what you believe is fundamentally true about human beings, to how you interact with strangers, to what makes you afraid, to how honest you are, to whether or not you’re as good a friend, lover or acquaintance as you could be… constantly identify ways to grow, prune, build, and level. Then do it. Change.

Be the Change

It’s not surprising I entered the world of theatre. Here, I can wear the skins of people with different intentions, worldviews, tempos, and rhythms to my own. Sometimes while exploring a character I’ll find an aspect of them that satiates me on a deep, gut-level – a whole-body grokking – and decide to try to hold onto that aspect for myself. Iago (see here, here, here, and here) helped me explore the intensely gratifying thrill of untethered ambition. As Donald (The Boys In The Band), I discovered the honest love behind unconditional loyalty. As William (William vs The World), I spelunked into the dark world of how a person can use self-delusion to shield oneself from loneliness, and into the desperation that kicks in when those illusions disappear. Malvolio (see here, here, here, and here) taught me how to use heartbreak as a powerful driving force, and performing improv taught me to trust not only my own gut instincts, but also those of whomever with whom I am sharing a moment. Over and over again theatre has helped me continue to shape and mold the very nature of who I am, cutting into the marble, adding slops of wet clay, drilling and firing and smelting and blooming.

One of my other core beliefs is this: I respect anyone who is trying to better themselves, be they an addict, my mother or even a former serial killer. We can all be better than who we are; we are all works in progress, always. That doesn’t mean we are not good, honest, eager, excellent people in the here and now. What it means is that we’re human. Malleable. Full of hope and opportunity.

Whether you want to or not, we all change. It happens. No one remains the exact same person throughout the course of their life, or heck, throughout the course of a year, or a month. What we can do, however, by admitting our protean possibilities, is direct that change for the better, be that through eliminating beliefs that are hindering, through shifting your perspective of yourself and of the world, through adopting new practices and personality goals such as honesty and openness, or through pursuing an innumerable other opportunities to grow, weed, cut, feed, nurture, and breathe.

There are many reasons someone might tell you to never change who you are. Perhaps they’re worried you don’t feel self-worth in who you currently are. Perhaps they worry you’ll trip up somewhere along your personal journey and get lost. Perhaps they’re afraid you’ll become someone other than their expectations of you. Perhaps they worry you’ll leave them behind. Perhaps it’s just their way of saying ‘I love you for who you are now.’ But I would add to each of these that anyone who tells you to never change who you are, refuses to see how amazing-brilliant-marvelous your future self will be.

Keep consciously changing,
Andrew Wade

The Romantics of Victoria

Hello all,

I was recently interviewed by Tom Stuart on the upcoming staged reading of my play, The Romantics, happening at the Intrepid Theatre Club this Saturday (May 12th) at 8pm. Please come out!

The interview can be found here: http://www.westofwest.ca/2012/05/facets-love-interview-andrew-wade/
And the event info: http://www.intrepidtheatre.com/news/you-show-the-romantics/

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

A newspaper article all about me.

So,

I have SO much respect for The Cultch’s publicity people. They do a great job at showcasing the works that go on in that space, they have a good relationship with the media, and… well… they got me an article all about myself in The Richmond Review. Read it here: http://www.richmondreview.com/entertainment/150096215.html .

The review itself was done on the phone during my lunch hour at Science World on Wednesday, and it went up online on Thursday (printed in the Friday newspaper over two pages, with TWO photos of me). Good fun. I especially enjoyed this back-and-forth (paraphrased somewhat according to my memory):

Him: “Just out of curiosity, are you somehow related to Adrian Wade?”
Me: “Yes, he’s my dad. And yes, he writes a lot of letters to the paper.”
Him: “And do you have a brother named Sam?”
Me: “Yes, the guy who biked across the country for cancer research.”

So, we have a pretty famous family in free-local-newspaper-profiler circles.

I chose not to let him know that I grew up delivering his competitor’s newspapers for three or four years. 🙂

Some event links:
Victoria: https://www.facebook.com/events/215861801863022/
Vancouver: https://www.facebook.com/events/311795948896899/

Cheers,
Andrew Wade