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Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Health and Wellbeing’

High Fidelity

So,

I just finished reading High Fidelity, the book (obviously) – read the last close-to-two-hundred pages in a single go. That’s one thing I’ve really enjoyed about taking this contract – I’ve become a reading person again, and that’s one thing I’ve really missed from childhood – being the kind of person who can just sit and read a book, submerged between its pages, for hours on end, because I need to find out how it goes, because I’ve emotionally and intellectually connected to it.

I’m also a bit of an empathic person in that I tend to adopt the voice of what I’m reading or watching for a little while. Which is why I’m writing this out now, and probably why I don’t watch scary slasher flicks. (Also, I just typed the word ‘flick’, which is British, so apparently High Fidelity has turned me slightly British.)

So it’s sort of a book about a jerk. I don’t entirely relate to that (and please don’t argue the opposite). I’ve been real stupid in life, but rarely with a vindictive sense of malice to it. Not since grade school, anyway, when I would plot to fill peoples’ desks with dirt because I thought they were mean to me. Nah, most of the time, if I’m thinking someone deserves negative stuff in their life, that person is me. But I’ve an affirmational poster on my wall (yes, I’m that guy) that says ‘I am a Good Man‘ (sharpie underlined), and I believe it, most of the time. My friend Jacqui added a ‘And we ❤ you!’ to it that I quite appreciate.

What the book is more about, though, is the triumvirate of the excitement of new relationships, dealing with break-ups, and figuring out what to do in the middle of a relationship. It’s about how much mental space and energy and OHMYGOD these things take up inside a person’s soul. It ends with pretty much an ode to marriage and commitment, because, heck, all of the above just take so much EFFORT, going through those first few steps of a relationship over and over and over again, and long term relationships take effort too, but it’s a different kind of effort; it isn’t the same, stuck kind of effort repeating itself over and over again.

My week has been emotionally a bit rough, probably in part due to this book. It’s all about fixating on past relationships, and, well, it’s not hard to see why that is an issue if you’ve read the second paragraph up there about empathy. And I don’t know if people with regular nine-to-five, five-days-a-week office dayjobs feel like every day is the same, but performing a show is quite LITERALLY SAYING THE EXACT SAME WORDS AND REPEATING THE EXACT SAME ACTIONS EVERY DAY.

(I actually love it, and every audience has a slightly different vibe, and let’s be honest, I usually slightly fumble a couple of dance moves or reverse a line or sing a verse with a slightly different intent, so it’s never exactly the same, but the metaphor is too precise to ignore, so stick with me.)

ANYWAY, as I was saying, I needed to get to the end of the book, so I read it with an intensity – I was trying to divine some sort of wisdom from these pages to help me out, or at least to feel a sense of closure – moreso than I feel from my own life right now. I don’t want to be Rob (the main character) from the beginning of the book. (sidenote: No one should want to be the person at the beginning of the book – they’re the person who hasn’t yet learned what they need to learn to be a better person.) He’s a mid-thirties man who still acts like a teenager because his life got stuck somewhere along the way, and he blames everyone else for it happening. And I, by contrast, am an early-thirties man who is excited to read a book from cover to cover because the very act of doing so makes him feel like a pre-teen, who isn’t sure if this theatre tour he’s on is a life derailment, a career advancement, or a period of being stuck in relational limbo. Probably all three. And I mostly blame myself for how my life is. But I could be more of Rob at the end of the book. Sure, it’s a bit of a cop-out that someone else fixes most of his exterior life, but inside himself, he makes some realizations and he feels the heartdeep of what makes commitment and long-term relationships so meaningful.

Let’s be honest. I’m a 32-year-old man who had only been in a relationship with someone for longer than nine months before my last one, once, and even with the age difference, that really probably was my first time with that heartdeep, that continuity of companionship and all that comes with it, and now you’re feeling awkward reading this because these are the kinds of thing that twenty-year-old men accidentally blubber about when they’ve had too much to drink, or the kinds of things said by pathetic old men still pining over old flames, or maybe those are both images I’m projecting over myself, but I’m going to say the obvious anyway, which is that I want that heartdeep again.

I’m also probably not emotionally prepared to have it again – not that that stops some people – and anyway, I’m on tour now, hopping from Calgary to the Cayman Islands (to visit a happy, committed couple with a kid) to Edmonton and then maybe to Winnipeg and I have NEVER been good at long term planning, always been the person to embrace the ephemerality of life and that’s what I’m living in for the next three to six months whether I want to or not, and I’m going to do my darndest to enjoy it, goshdarnit, to find ways to make peoples’ lives exciting due to my being temporarily, ephemerally in them, as I continue to crawl back percentage points of my heart (yes I think of it in percentages – it’s not a null sum game – the heart can grow! – but percentages all the same), but when I finish leading this webisode, short-story, elseworlds edition comic book time in my life, and have more of my heartdeep to offer, I’d like to find a deep, long novel with someone to live in.

Anyway, this has been my book report on High Fidelity. Cheers.

 

Every Two Weeks.


The Most Honest Man In The World - option 2b - Copy

Every Two Weeks.

 

Partly, I use the fringe circuit as a way to live different lives.

 

To test out different parallel universe Andrews, if you will.


 

For most of the year, there is a routine. Living in the suburb I grew up in. I have my day jobs. The occasional play. Family members to visit, old friends to chat with. My solitary home to go back to, maybe watch a show on my computer. Most of the year is caked, coated, overgrown with my personal history. That isn’t a bad thing, per say. It’s what I have made of my life.

 

But then there’s Fringe. Every two weeks, a new location, a new living situation, a new family, if you will. From seeing what life would be like were I the child of a retired military family who dine on exotic meats and wine in Regina, to sharing a living space with a nineteen-year-old drag queen in Toronto. And I get to be different, too. I have never been a bar hopper, but what the hey, why not head to the beer tents every night this time? Or use this free time to become a bookworm for a few days. Or struggle dearly to be a streetside salesman, pitching my fringey wares. To be the kind of fellow who has a one night stand, or the kind of person who shares in a week-long relationship, seeing a person you care for every single day.

 

Those aren’t the Andrews I am back in Richmond. I’m not that guy. But on the road, I am. And I am. And I am.

 

I dubbed this season, ‘the summer Andrew sorts out his stuff’. With a hashtag. And it’s not just the shows I’m performing. In The Most Honest Man In The World, I really am onstage trying to sort through the neuroses I held four years ago about relationships. Every performance, I want that epiphany, that moment, that ‘aha’ that spurs me forward in my personal growth. The show doesn’t work unless it’s equal parts hope and regret.

 

As The Most Honest Man In The World, I have to face the truth. Who am I? Well, when it comes to relationships, in Richmond, I am a 28 year old man who lives alone with a minifridge and a single bed who doesn’t know how to offer up enough of his life to make a relationship work. He knows what he knows and he is who he is. That man, The Most Honest Man In The World from the play, me at 24, I’m still mostly him. Less neurotic, less nervous, far more centred, but still mostly him. I’m just used to how I life my life.

 

But this summer, each summer, every two weeks, I get a glimpse of what it would be like if I lived differently. If I were someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Every ‘else’ as someone almost me, but in different circumstances, a different city, with different people.

 

Adulthood is partly the realization that you don’t get to be someone ‘when you grow up’. You are what you choose to focus on. In Richmond, there is an inertia to where I devote my focus. But on the road, with Fringe festivals and non-fringe stops inbetween, every two weeks I get to adopt a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. What would it be like if I DID devote more attention to this, or that, or this, or that? From Toronto to Ann Arbor to Saskatoon to Nanaimo to Victoria to Vancouver, with everything I own – the artifacts that describe who I am – packed up into boxes, crates, bags, and a lone travelling suitcase.

 

I don’t know which me is going to come home in the end. But I hope that he’s…

 

 

 

I don’t know. I don’t know what I hope for.

 

I hope that he learns how to focus.

 

How to focus better on what’s important in life.

 

Once he figures out what actually is important in life. For him. For me. Once I do. If I do.

Or I don’t.

 

 

There is so much left in this summer.

 

**********

 

Saskatoon Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1102726283074871/

Nanaimo Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1597063170563617/

Victoria Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1193881917293983/

Vancouver Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633245323584144/

 

#TheSummerAndrewFiguresOutHisStuff

Thank you for the tea parties.

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I had cloistered myself up in British Columbia, hid away in school for twenty straight years, I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t get the chances to perform in the real world, once I graduated… so I made a plan. A crazy plan. I decided to write myself a one man show and take it across the country.
       
Andrew Wade 011bI had no idea if I could hold anyone’s attention for an hour. I had no idea if I could write a show that’d work. I threw every theatrical idea into the show, creating a mad, patchwork quilt of ideas, and then threw most of them out. I mostly improvised a run at Vancouver Fringe in 2011. I rewrote the darn thing from the ground up. And then I took a deep breath, spent thousands of dollars, and took my little hat and kettle show on the road. First year, I went to London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon, spent over two months away from where I lived – the longest I had ever been on the road.
       
I got stuck backstage and had to pee in a water bottle a couple of minutes before my first performance. I sold exactly zero tickets to three of my first four performances. I was on greyhound buses for forty-three straight hours. I lost money. And it was worth it.
       
The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONI also met with mentors and brilliant performers who just wanted to help me along my journey. I made friends, colleagues, and talent crushes. I was introduced to the ridiculous art of attempting to smuggle women into your billet’s place without them noticing. I discovered from my billets just how charitable people can be and how awesome retirement is for a lot of people. I traveled the country, flew for only the third time in ten years. I made a man in Saskatoon give me a great big hug, break down, and cry, then loudly whoop at everyone on the street to come see my show.
       
And then, this summer, I brought The Hatter home. ‘Previewed’ it in Port Alberni to an empty town full of good intentions, brought it to Regina and was fed fancy meats while swatting mosquitoes and having a grand ol’ time. Then came the real homecoming tour.
       
Next, I went to Saskatoon, which had welcomed me so warmly, it felt like home. There’s a reason I was able to perform the most personal work I’ve ever written, there: a new show, The Most Honest Man In The World. Me being me. And most people still called me The Hatter, anyhow.
       
Then came Victoria. The big gulp of nervous air, a city of people I had treasured for seven years, then skipped out on when my degree was up. Spent a quarter of my life there. Felt like I was awaiting their judgment, wanting the city, old friends, ex-girlfriends, to tell me I had made the right call, that I’d made something of myself, out there in that bigger ol’ world. And the people who matter, they gave me just that. And oddly, most reassuringly of all, Victoria, well, it didn’t feel like home anymore. The Hatter is a play about searching for home. In its first draft, it was muchly a play of regretting leaving someplace, some people, somewhere. Now, it’s not that.
       
Now, The Hatter is about moving on.
       
And here we are in Vancouver, at home, and The Hatter is about to hang up his hat. No future plans for him. Nothing set. Just one more celebration, tonight at 8:15pm.
       
Thank you for the tea parties.
       
       
The Hat

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

An Actor Ponders

February 5, 2014 3 comments
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Whatcha thinking?”

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And now, a look behind Andrew’s furrowed brow.

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Why am I still looking at job postings? Why do I still have an active RSS feed section devoted to new possible job opportunities, combing and scanning through craigslist, Alliance for Arts, and others, for me to glance through every few days?

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I worked for eleven different employers last year. I am currently on the payroll for four organizations, with two others occasionally bringing me in every other month or so.

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Oh, and these are the non-theatre-companies. Those are separate. Workshopping a play with one right now, and performing with another company for the next two months.

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That’s right! I’m finally finding work as an actor! Fantastic! For two months. Then I’m back. Time to look for another job.

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Why? Don’t you have enough?

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But there are more opportunities out there! Ones you don’t know of, if you aren’t looking!

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An actor always looks for auditions. Always hunts for opportunities. Never ending. Heading to auditions while rehearsing for something else. Endless job interviews. Endless rejections and successes.

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I’ve been trained this way.

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I’ve been trained to approach my work-for-hire life this way.

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I don’t have enough time now to offer my employers.

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I’m spending too much time at work. I could take more time off.

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I could miss out on more opportunities.

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Maybe I should check my RSS feeds one more time.

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Oh. Right. I’m doing Fringe Festivals this summer. Who’s going to hire a guy who disappears for several weeks at a time, over and over again?

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Right. My lovely, current employers. Who I enjoy working for! Not as much as I enjoy working on shows and being a theatre creator and performer, of course. But I appreciate and enjoy them.

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But I could appreciate and enjoy something else!

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Or maybe I should be dropping everything for a few months and see if this whole ‘actor and writer’ career thing can sustain itself!

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That seems somewhat foolish and unnecessary. And maybe I’ll find out I don’t enjoy living only that way, very much! That could shatter me. A lot of sunken cost time into this theatre acting thing. Or maybe I’d get lazy. If I give myself too much free time, maybe I’d just squander it by hiding in books and games. Besides, my employers are happy to trade me 80$ for my day. I can’t turn that down!

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Well, I could, I suppose. Technically.

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And I guess I have! Sorta. For this and the next two months, living the life of the working actor.

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This’ll be a grand experiment. I’m thrilled. I’m just so thrilled. Really. I am. Just peached to the extreme. Don’t lose that, Andrew! That excitement! Those butterflies! Hee!

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And then it’s done, and I’m back to the dayjobs until Fringe festivals. Where I’ll likely lose money again, when considering travel costs.

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I should check those job postings. Or accept more shifts in the couple days I have off before the theatre contract.

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No! I’m not superhuman… I need some time to recharge. Groceries, laundry, as well, I suppose.

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No, Andrew, people aren’t going to laden you down unreasonably. They expect you to need some time to yourself each day. Most people only work five shifts a week.

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But I could pick up shifts on those other weeks? Or find someone willing to pay me to do something new!

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I should check those feeds again. After all, as a pay-for-hire, I’m really contracting out my time to organizations. Makes sense to continually look for new clients, right? Diversification. Allows me to stick with my favourites and perhaps others fall to the wayside. Or find you unreliable because you’re never free and always gallivanting off to to theatre stuff.

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Theatre stuff! I get to do theatre stuff this year! Yay! And maybe next year?

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I don’t think I can take on any more than I’m doing.

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But maybe there’s something better out there!

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But I can’t get trapped in single full-time job life! Right? Right? That’s where people stop pursuing crazy things like acting, isn’t it? Where people get complacent?

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I think I’m afraid of becoming complacent.

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Or is that contentment? Is that what those people have?

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I feel like I’m planning my life so that whenever I want to, I can leave everything and go pursue something else. Keeping one foot out the door. Or at least, holding the door open. Like an actor does, always on the hunt for the next opportunity.

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Do I have a problem, or am I doing this right?

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Oy.

The Emotions of Fringe

August 25, 2013 1 comment
INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

These are a number of little thoughts and phrases I jotted down throughout my tour. The emotions of being on tour.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

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I literally collapsed within my first few days on the tour. Stress, sickness, low blood pressure, and a particularly poorly chosen hot bath.

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“Damn you for making me cry.”

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Someone in Toronto told me they loved me. In that way. They meant it, with all the power of sincerity.

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Two starred reviews. 3 stars in London, 4.5 stars in Saskatoon. The first, other artists apologize to you for, for some reason. The second, they cheer you on, all day long.

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English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Wikipedia)

That giddy grin for no reason whatsoever.

That giddy grin for oh so many reasons.

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Laughing home on a borrowed bicycle at 3am.

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Performing for three people (two performers and a volunteer) in London. Performing for 45 people in Saskatoon. Getting the standing ovation.

I don’t care if standing ovations don’t mean what they used to. They still mean a lot to me.

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Getting teary-eyed onstage. Having your story honestly hit yourself in the feels.

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For the past decade, I have been asking myself, ‘where is home’? This summer, I felt kisses of it all across the country. Let me tell you stories. Lead me into your home. Let’s be together, and if it’s only for a short time, then we’ll make that time mean something. Home is a loving invitation.

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“If you haven’t seen The Hatter, GO SEE THE HATTER! It’s incredible.”

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A guy came to see my show. Throughout the week, he was staffing a street store as a favour to a merchant friend of his. After the show, this man went out of his way to track me down and get a stack of handbills from me, so he could pitch my show to people who came to buy things from him.

He later told me he used to work in a prison. The job took its toll on him, including him finding a number of suicides, which traumatized him quite severely, to the point where he didn’t leave his house for years. Eventually, slowly, with many tiny steps, he began to reintegrate with the rest of the world, a process he is still working through. The street crowds intimidated him, but to be out in the sun left him gloriously shouting joy to the heavens. He told me he could really relate to Earnest and The Hatter, to the idea of hiding down a rabbithole. That my show really touched him.

Alice——————

“Oh yeah, that actress told me she might hook up with you.”
“Why didn’t she tell ME?”

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“My last bus comes in twenty minutes. Am I taking the last bus home?”

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The Hatter is the story of a man trying to get home. Desperately, desperately trying to get back home.

In hindsight, I would’ve thought that taking such a show on tour would have made me more homesick.

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“You have so much talent, and it would be a shame for you to miss out on even one opportunity to hear that. You are a brilliant actor, but also a positively amazing writer. Your show made me feel something, and that’s what good theatre should do. Thank you for that. I hope you know how much your art matters.”

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My show gets emotional. I imagined it, I wrote it, and I’m performing it. Which means that through all of it are real emotions, which, when shared through the art of storytelling, create a sort of lopsided level of intimacy between myself and each person in the audience. Which is an odd way to kickstart a relationship.

I say kickstart, because after the show is over, these lovely audience members already now know enough about me to know whether or not they want to have a conversation with me, before I’ve even met them. I don’t need to go through the other half of ‘here’s who I am’. They’re strangers to me, while I am now someone ‘known’ to them. This means I can keep the first conversation I have with them, about them. It was really quite refreshing to jump into conversations with complete strangers with an eager curiosity, knowing that that they’ve already seen much of what makes me, me.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

They’ve already seen my heart.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
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My Definition of Self-Respect

December 5, 2012 Leave a comment
BeardedAndrew

In Flora, I looked like Lenin.

 

Two days ago I shaved off my facial hair. It’s amazing what seeing a different face in the mirror can do.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling someone my criteria for respect: I respect anyone who actively tries to better themselves. We talked about different ‘ages’ people go through, eras of the self, where we can say ‘I was different then’.

To some people, the idea of such eras is a terrifying thought, for who are we if we are not who we were? But I wear my ages as badges of pride, blazoned on me as reminders that perhaps, just possibly, I am making forward progress into becoming a better me, a quest which I know only ends with my death. Possibly.

But as we discussed, I could feel a weight of stagnation. Or worse. I looked at the now-me and who I was a couple of years ago, and saw a man whose greatest changes were semi-independence and a pool of guilt for a selfish act which I refuse to believe was wrong.

In grade five, in that church, I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw. I decided on the kind of person I wanted to be, and made a firm commitment to continually change who I was into someone better. My definition of self-respect denies anything less.

This past while, I haven’t had any focus on the man I wanted to be. Or I’ve been too anxious to search him out. Or I have cast judgement and sentenced myself to floating in the pool, just deep and flat enough.

So I am making a concerted effort to discover who that next-me should be. What beliefs I need to discard, and which ones I need to build. What I need to do to improve. My definition of self-respect denies anything less.

My self-respect requires nothing less.

I haven’t been a baby-face in perhaps two years. And now, when I look at myself in the mirror, it doesn’t quite look like me. I am staring at someone slightly different. A new face.

Someone I might aspire to become.

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Babyface Andrew

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

How to Forgive a Thief

August 24, 2012 2 comments

How to Forgive a Thief

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

As an unexpected follow-up to my post earlier this week, while I was chatting with an old friend at a coffeehouse in Victoria, my bike’s odometer – which I had forgotten to remove from my bike in the midst of hello-hug-greetings – was stolen.

(sidenote: Always in Victoria! I’ve had bike lights stolen three times, a helmet once, and now an odometer. Never lost anything in Vancouver or Kelowna – bigger crime capitals – oddly enough.)

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynast...

Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynasty odometer horse cart (Wikipedia)

That moment when I realize something of mine has been stolen, sucks. No way around it. It frustrates and angers me. It makes me suspicious and mistrustful of the people immediately around me.

Fortunately, as I mentioned before, I have a coping mechanism in the way of tithing. I can’t get rid of the frustration so easily, but the last thing I want to do is compound these frustrations by adding the financial replacement cost of buying a NEW odometer. I also need to find a way to forgive the thief. So here’s what I’ll do.

Right now, due to my blessed time working the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I have in my budget an August tithing balance of -150.58$. That’s money strictly earmarked towards tithing actions – using the money for a good cause, for gifts, and the like.

First I need to decide upon a replacement cost. The odometer that I purchased cost about 25$, but that was due to a dramatic sale at a Zellers going out of business. I was unable to find a similar odometer at the Zellers here in Victoria, so I can’t expect that amount to cover a new odometer. So I’ll put my replacement cost at the amount for a similar odometer from MECC, which, including taxes, comes to about 45$.

So, emotionally, I offer my odometer as a gift, so I can get over the feeling of being a victim, and be willing to forgive. Financially, I subtract 45$ from my tithing budget, reducing it to -105.58$, and the only hassle for me is the act of going out and buying another odometer, and the time I am currently without one. It could even make sense to put a dollar figure to that time cost, if I found it overly frustrating.

All that said, every incident has its own personality. Today is particularly frustrating because they took the odometer, but not the sensors attached to the wheel… which means that rather than a homeless person taking a bike-light that can be used as a flashlight… today’s voleur has walked away with a piece of useless electronic junk. Which makes forgiveness harder. But without my tithing system it’d be so much worse.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

Thanks for reading.


Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Six Secular Reasons to Tithe

August 22, 2012 4 comments

Six Secular Reasons to Tithe

For me, tithing consists of setting aside 1/10th of what I earn, to be given away for the benefit of others. While I am a Christian, the benefits of accepting a tithing mindset and habit are huge for anyone – regardless of spirituality – who chooses to take on this challenge.

Note: My definition of tithing includes using this 10% of earnings for non-reciprocal gifts, donations to charities, help for friends and strangers in need… whatever you feel is appropriate, which may include giving to religious institutions, but doesn’t need to.

Hunky-dory? Great. Onto the reasons:

Tithe Tenth Mormon

(Credit: More Good Foundation)

(1) Good Deeds

Let’s get the obvious one off the bat. By giving money to worthy causes and actions, you help make the world a better place than it was yesterday, and that is huge. Whether you’re helping education and health by deworming the world (http://www.dewormtheworld.org/), giving to a local shelter, or encouraging mentorship (http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca), you’re making an impact.

(2) Budgeting

While the actual 10% figure isn’t too important, taking on this challenge requires taking note of your income and figuring out just what it is you’re actually earning. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll give exactly 10% of what you’re earning each month, or some opportunities might come up that require you to give a little more, so some numbers may carry over into the next month. Spreadsheets may be scary to some, but I personally find it a lot of fun (yes, fun) seeing one adjustment affect my next year’s worth of numbers. A skill well worth learning in case the public school system didn’t help you in this regard.

"Have you seen this man? He is Ant Hill H...

(Credit: Wikipedia)

(3) A Way to Forgive Thieves

If you’re like me, there is nothing that gets in your craw, that rankles you, that makes you downright peeved and pissed off so much as having something be stolen. The worst part of it all is that feeling of powerlessness, which can often devolve into a fear for one’s own security. It’s not hard to go from having a possession be stolen to adopting a mindset of distrust toward anyone you don’t know (or perhaps even toward people you do know). Which, as I’ve discussed before, is not a good way to live. But with a set tithing plan in place, I’m able to stick a mental trick on myself and choose to let the object that was stolen instead be a gift. If they’re resorting to pilfery, they probably need it more than I.

With this method, I then take the replacement cost off my tithing amount, so I’m not even short any money in my budget. It still sucks to have stuff get stolen, but I am now able to consider it a gift, forgive, replace, and move on, without my finances taking a hit.

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

(4) Karma / Pay It Forward

Alright, perhaps not an entirely non-spiritual reason, but plenty of people believe in a worldview where doing a good deed will come back around in the end. I don’t necessarily believe this concept, but I have respect for people who do.

(5) Encourages a Positive Perception of Money

It’s too easy in our society to become obsessed with the goal of obtaining money for security, or even hoarding money for money’s sake. Intentionally giving away money each month instead reminds us that money is just a tool to help us pursue other goals – not a goal in and of itself. Doing so also reminds us of what we hold to be more important in life. Don’t get me wrong – money is a fantastic tool, but that’s all it is.

(6) Encourages a Generous Mindset
Giving encourages more giving – a positive reinforcement loop that creates more generous individuals. Before I started tithing, I would often spend time debating the pros and cons of any behaviour or action before (possibly) making a decision. Since I’ve begun tithing, however, I find I am far more likely to freely offer aid to someone in need, without hesitation. It’s a far more fulfilling way to live.

I also find I am far more willing to accept and ask for aid from others, now that I know just how good it feels to be a giver. Generous minds build communities, neighbourhoods, friendships. Optimism. Happiness.

I encourage you to at least give tithing a trial for a few months, and open your eyes to all the opportunities to give and support the people around you, and around the world.

——————————

Passive Income Update:

As previously stated, I am on a plan to produce a monthly passive income of 80$ per month by the 1st of December. I have decided that I will let this goal include any passive income stream I create in that span, rather than have it need to come all from one source.

GOAL: 80$ per month.

PROGRESS: 7.16$ more in passive income per month due to moving cash from a low-earnings savings account to a higher earnings situation.

STILL TO GO: 72.84$ per month.

——————————

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Life as Seasons of Television

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

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

***************

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.

television

(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. 😛

Television

(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

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

Why I Trust Strangers (and hope you do too!)

March 9, 2012 3 comments

A Matter of Trust

Image via Wikipedia

 

I can honestly say that I spent much of my time at elementary school as a miserable coward. As I wandered alone, step by step, along the concrete dividers outside my school each recess and lunch, my mind raced with intimidating scenarios.

What if that boy decided to fight me? What if they swarmed me with insults and pushed me? What if they approached me, cracking their knuckles? What could I do?

I was constantly figuring out escape routes, deciding whether or not I could outrun them, or reach that teacher in time, or the classroom, or safety, somewhere, anywhere.

(It’s worth noting that I was never punched once. Did get shoved into a bush. Was bit once. But that one was my fault.)

If I was walking on my own, dark, light, day, night, whatever, I would imagine muggers emerging from every shadow, and I would continually run scenarios over and over in my head. That’s one reason why I bought an mp3 player: So I could have something else in my head as I went from point A to point B other than running through what would happen, were I attacked.

In every scenario I ran through, I either ran away… or more rarely imagined myself getting the piss beaten out of me.

Eventually, I came to realize that this wasn’t healthy. Certainly not a useful use of my time. But I that realization alone didn’t cut it out entirely. No. I thought the healthiest thing was to make sure that when I envisioned these… ruminations… that I would imagine myself ‘winning’ the encounter. With tact and compassion, I would employ myself like a master hostage negotiator and defuse the situation (okay, or sometimes with physical intimidation, grabbing the right weapon around me). Then they would give in, reform, and become a better person.

Seriously.

My poor baby.

But that wasn’t healthy either. And whenever someone stole something from me, or I lost something (which amounted to the same thing in my mind), I became angry. Spiteful. The loss of my poor M:TG Lightning Dragon really ate me up.

Then, BOOM! Moment of clarity. Shining, shimmering splendid! I realized how I could solve both of these problems – my constant scenario-making, and my anger. I had a choice to make.

I chose to trust strangers. And everyone else. To assume that they were good people. To assume that the man in the shadows would have a kind heart. To assume that no one would have stolen my hat – I must have left it somewhere, or someone must have taken it by mistake. An honest error, t’is all. Well, that’s alright. They can have it.

And if it really was stolen? They must need it more than I do.

This past December, I got in trouble with a lady’s parents when, at the end of a dinner spent at their place, I asked if she could show me the way to the bus stop. Because I didn’t know where it was, and needed to get home. (That, and having a minute alone with her would have been nice.)

Well, apparently that doomed me to their bad books for life, because once I got on that bus, she had half a block to walk back to her place. At night. In a suburban area. Horrors upon horrors.

And yes, being a man, the potential dangers are different for me. But living to the point of being afraid of walking half a block away from one’s home… I am so glad I don’t live like that anymore. So glad that I can enjoy the solitude of a good walk, or be happy to see an unknown face on the street.

The world is safer, less violent, more peaceful, than it has ever been. I will admit, however, that the dangers and evil deeds of the world are better reported than ever before. So I don’t watch the news, other than a feed on politics, science and technology. There’s always hope on those fronts. (Yes, even in politics. From time to time.)

Once I chose to trust in strangers, I stopped worrying about mythical muggers and became a much happier man, and that trust has been repaid countless times, over and over again. I highly recommend it.

Lightning Dragon (Photo credit: Jon_Tucker)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Mysterious Energy of Edwin Drood

February 20, 2012 2 comments

I’m not prone to generalizations, but I don’t think it a stretch to say that everyone wonders at some point in their lives what other possibilities were out there, if they had gone down a different career path. What if I had gone into the sciences, instead? What if I had aimed to stay as a full-time staffer at that observatory? What if?

I will freely admit that I do wonder whether or not my own is the wisest course of action, whether my ambitious drive into the world of theatre is a quest worth pursuing, a goal worthy of fitting my whole life around. Whether I might be just as happy doing something else, somewhere else, for (assuredly) more money. More security. More regularity. Whether or not I should be proud of my current life of balancing part-time jobs in order to make just enough rent that I can spend all my weekends and evenings creating theatre and performing (typically without pay, no less!). After a stretch of working daytimes and rehearsing evenings, these thoughts can run through my head. I admit that.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993 film)

Image via Wikipedia

That said, I flat out deny the notion of ‘if you can imagine yourself being content doing anything else, then DO THAT OTHER THING INSTEAD’ that gets floated about concerning all the arts (be they acting, writing, visual art, you name it). Hogwash. Of course I could find a decent modicum of happiness somewhere else. The world is great and vast, and there are so many excellent potentials out there, so many avenues to pursue, adventures to explore. Any man who could not find happiness in more than one pursuit is a man I pity. But I wager that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, like standing centre-stage and igniting two hundred people into laughter, compassionate silence, or enthusiastic jeers. Nowhere else makes me so completely and wholly grateful to be alive.

Do I act to be famous? No, but it’s nice to be recognized. Do I act for the continually renewed challenge of live theatre? Partly. I’ve found that when the challenge of a job disappears, so too does my interest, whereas live theatre is a new and different adventure every single night, because the conversation between actors and audience is different every night, even if the lines and choreography remain the same.

But no, the main reason I perform is because the act of sharing a story fills me with a delight unlike anything else on Earth.

Except perhaps the happy dance I do after a lady agrees to go on a date with me. Even there, theatre might win out.

Saturday night was opening night for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a pseudo-pantomimish musical absolutely brimming with delightful energy. Big, bold, and British. Marvelous. And this show has instilled me, nay, possessed me, with a spirit of gratitude, from the moment we found our first preview audience. Since that first night, I have found myself treasuring my friends and family moreso than usual. I have repeatedly thanked God for all the opportunities in my life. I have found new ways to deeply enjoy my work. I have had a grin plastered on my face. I’ve had to suppress a strong urge to hug every friendly acquaintance I meet. I’ve needed less sleep. Heck, after opening night, and the opening night festivities, and post-festivities, I arrived home at 6am, and STILL had too much energy leftover to sleep for another couple of hours. I am vitalized, potent, present.

The lesson from all this? Life is a bigger, brighter wonderful when I have a stage and a story to share. It happens every show. Every project. And any time spent between performances, between opportunities, is a valley in comparison to this peak of exultant contentment.

And THAT’S why I’ve chosen a career in theatre. Not because I couldn’t possibly do anything else, but because, by gum, I have found nothing so irrationally fulfilling as this.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood plays at The Metro from now until March 3rd, with 8pm evening performances on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 29th, 1st, 2nd, and the 3rd, and a 3pm matinee performance on the 26th. Review at: http://www.reviewvancouver.org/th_drood12.htm . Tickets at: http://ticketstonight.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1682

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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My Honey Bottle Valentine – at West of West

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Like this, but with a squeeze top like a water bottle. How romantic.

Hello, all!

Following along with my healthy compulsion toward understanding myself, I have written up a story, My Honey Bottle Valentine, about the first Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever given. You can find it on my brilliant friend Tom Stuart’s web showcase of Vancouver Island writings at WestofWest.ca .

Last month he also posted my short story, A Journey of Barren Landscapes, which won the 2010 Martlet Short Fiction competition.

I am proud of them both. Well, not so much proud of my own actions in the first story, per say. I’ve never been as forthcoming or adventurous in my social/relational life as would be good for me. But it is a window into who I am.

And as for Barren Landscapes? Originally written as part of a workshop at UVic, it’s one of those pieces where each time I look back at it, I am dumbfoundedly surprised to see my name up there as the author. It’s a genuinely good piece; I just can’t believe that I was the person who wrote it. An adventurous road trip relationship story from a person who, at that point, had barely been on a road trip and never been in a relationship. And yet, while it is a story about someone getting swept away by an unpredictable, charismatic woman… it’s not merely me penning a personal fantasy. If anything, it might be more of a warning.

And… the links again, for good measure:
My Honey Bottle Valentine
A Journey of Barren Landscapes

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

My Alternate Timeline Suicide

December 28, 2011 1 comment

My Alternate Timeline Suicide

On December 23rd, Joe Bodolai, known as a former Kids In The Hall and SNL writer, posted his suicide note online, a lengthy and funny summary on his life, his regrets, and what he’s proud of. A love note to the people who cared for him.

“I need to feel the good that I did and whatever good I have ever done for you is enough for me. May you all have the happy lives you deserve. Thank you all for being in my life.”

The whole thing can be found here: http://qualityshows.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/if-this-were-y0ur-last-day-alive-what-would-you-do/ .

Suicide is a hard topic, particularly for me. I have been blessed in my life that, thus far, no one close to me has died. A couple of elderly relatives have passed on, but I had honestly only ever seen them less than a half-dozen times in my life. So death and me, we have yet to butt heads. Which will be an interesting, powerful, and potentially destructive spiritual battle when that occurs. But I know to count my blessings.

Joe Bodolai

Allow me to set the scene. I am a ten year old boy entering church on Sunday morning with my family. I am miserable. Daily. My family are great, but I spend every recess wandering the lot alone, planning escape route scenarios in case that kid decides to pick a fight with me, or envisioning scenes of taunts and teasing. Occasionally imagining what it would be like to be popular.

I wasn’t actually bullied much. But in my head, I felt like the schoolyard, the world, was a hostile force surrounding me, judging me. And I knew, in my heart, that when the inevitable confrontation came… I was a coward. I would run.

So there I am, sitting in church beside my mother. The pastor begins the community prayer. We all bow our heads and close our eyes. He begins, thanking God for all that we have, then opens the prayer to the congregation. An elderly woman stands up and asks for healing for her friend who is in the hospital with cancer. A man stands up and asks for prayer for his wife. I fold over further, burying my face into my hands, between my knees, crush my eyes closed even harder, deciding whether or not to stand up on my chair and ask the community to pray for me. To help me. Tears.

I didn’t stand up. But I did beg God to help me. To change me. To help me change myself into a person I could stand. To stop being such a coward. Wimp. Utterly introverted. To stop being miserable.

That was my moment of transformation. I took stock of who I was and decided I didn’t lke that person. And from then on, I have looked for ways to improve myself, from running to Late French Immersion (and thus, a different elementary school), to – on my first day of late french immersion in grade six – the brave decision to go up to the other boy with no one to talk to and start a conversation. Took all my muster. Became my best friend for two years. To joining rugby in grade eight. To diving headfirst into theatre and other avenues to find an extroverted nature (which I admittedly took too far in high school).

What does this have to do with suicide? Because if I hadn’t had God there, if I hadn’t had a wonderful family, if I HAD been bullied more… without that one moment in my life, I could easily have seen myself, a few more years down the line, as a 14-year-old suicide. Certainly within the realm of possibility. If there are alternate timelines, then there’s at least one of them out there without me in it anymore.

One of the biggest reasons I joined Peer Helping was because the POSSIBILITY existed that I might be able to help someone step away from the edge.

Now, I’m not saying people should be denied that free will decision to end their life in situations of great, increasing, and unending physical pain. But emotional pain… can be overcome. Can be conquered. It can get better. The world is a bounteous and beautiful place and we have so many opportunities to make it better for the people around us.

At the tail end of my time at UVic, I made a movement piece on the subject, approaching one of suicide’s darkest corners – someone who feels they are destroying their loved ones around them. Who feels their death will better the world for not having them in it.

Some more part of my inspiration for building that piece came from this audio clip – the last message someone left before ending their life:

 

Makes me quiver, tear up every time.

In this timeline, in this life, I am so very grateful that I am surrounded by so many marvelous and wonderful people. So glad that I feel deep down that I can be a positive force in this world.

So hopeful that you feel the same.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade