Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Health and Wellbeing’

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party! – Postmortem

October 13, 2011 2 comments

The Recap

Reading poetry from a journal of Adlerian Psychology at SAY WHA?! - right before getting upstaged by a skunk.

It has been close to a month since I served my last cup of tea as The Mad Hatter. Feels like yesterday. When it comes to continuing creative work, I follow John August’s advice, that a piece isn’t finished until you cease to be excited by it. I’m still excited by the Hatter.

The soul of the play is in his fight with forgiveness, with guilt; a battle I hadn’t found until the day of the first performance (and thus improvised into the script, from thereon in). I want to take this script and imbue it with more heartfelt pain, fear, grasping, gaining, hope. Take a page or two from Little Orange Man, performed by my friend Ingrid Hansen, which combined audience interaction, humour, character, and story in a poetic and beautiful way. For all the silly set-pieces like the epic fight with the (audience-filled) Jabberwocky, most people told me at the end of the day that their favourite moment was that frantic final five minutes where I worked in the Hatter’s emotional collapse (occasionally at frenetic speed to fit within my time limit). The soul of the show should pervade the whole script throughout. So, that’s my next step.

Only one review emerged, but a positive one: http://www.plankmagazine.com/review/mad-hatters-tea-party-tumble-fun

“Playwright and actor Andrew Wade manages to assemble components of the original story into a cohesive tale of the Mad Hatter, whose personal demons drive him to take refuge in the rabbit hole… I really enjoyed the enthusiasm and joy that he brought to his performance.”

Okay, not me.

I have applied for the CAFF lottery, which, if I win it (about a 10% chance), would automatically place me in eight different fringe festivals across Canada for next summer, with the next iteration of this show. If that falls through, I’ll apply to each one individually. This character still has so much farther to fly. ๐Ÿ™‚

A few things I learned at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival:

Me in 24h.

– Volunteers LOVED the show, but audiences were small, otherwise. I need to up my advertising/flyering, especially in the first few days of the festival.
– Take a day to go over the blurb before submitting it! At the last minute, I panicked about thinking about how I was going to wash all those teacups, and included ‘please, bring your own cup’ in the blurb. Then I just bought a bunch of disposable styrofoam cups from Zellers when I came to my senses. Who knows how many people decided not to see the show because of that little tag.
– While I’d much rather have a Dormouse help serve tea, when I take the show on the road, it won’t be a backbreaker to need to serve the tea myself as the audience comes in.
– I now have near total confidence that if I really want to create something, I will be able to find the resources to bring it all together in time. Feels like God giving me a leg-up, sometimes.
– It’s okay to get upstaged by a skunk when performing outside.
– For Jacqueline Irvine to tell me right at the right time that she wanted to get involved in theatre stuff again… for her to be willing to commit her time to sewing together the gigantic hat timeline backdrop, for all her last minute work (we finished that hat in the half-hour before the first performance), I am SO GRATEFUL for her help. Why try fight through it all alone with so many wonderful friends and collaborators around?

So much fun.

– I’m a decent judge of who in audiences is willing to play along and take a part in the show.
– Theatre tech people are just generally awesome, awesome, awesome.
– It IS possible to make friends with fellow theatre practitioners, even if you only see them after hours every day for a week or so. Especially if you see each other’s performances. You learn so much about a person from seeing them perform a piece they wrote themselves. So very revealing.
– Warming up a crowd, improv style, is a lot of fun.
– While I certainly can improvise my way through a play with a bare-bones script, finding the right physicality and voices for each character within that piece take a lot longer to figure out. Wasn’t happy with my Cheshire Cat or Flowers. Something to work on.
– Vocal warm-ups are NECESSARY when doing a 50 minute long show by yourself with three songs and much shouting and screaming. And some hidden water (or tea!) is not a bad idea as a safety net for if the voice goes.
– People want to help. I had a hot water urn donated by a church, tea from friends, Jacqueline’s amazing contributions… fantastic.
– Fight music and dramatic flashing red lighting make ANYTHING awesome.
– Every audience is different. I already knew this, but it’s even more evident when said audience is pretending to be a giant monster attacking you in an epic battle scene.
– Plug your fellow actors and their shows (especially if you liked them)!
– Let the audience see the real you at the end of the show. Build a relationship that way. Thank them as they leave. Every little moment to make them want to see you again, or make them connect with you and want you to do well.
– I can do this.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Finding my limits – How busy is too busy?

October 16, 2010 2 comments

Ah yes, the ever interesting question…

Am I too busy?

One of the key areas I’m focusing on this school year, is that of finding my limits, of seeing just how much I can cram into my life, of seeing just how that affects me. When I’m productive, I’m happy. But how much can I really get done?

Most days at school, I arrive ~9am, and leave ~9pm, give or take a few hours. This includes three real classes, one class I’m sitting in on (but not paying for or receiving credit for), two on-campus jobs (at the SIM lab and as a Peer Helping Student Coordinator), being the Fine Arts Student Senator on UVic’s Senate (including a temporary turn on the committee for appeals, as they needed me), and acting in four different theatre shows (A SATCo – Three Angry Pigs, an MFA Directing project – This Property is Condemned, a directing scene – from Picnic, and playing Quintus and Aemilius in VSS’s Titus Andronicus). I also did a shift as an SAT exam proctor on the weekend for a novel experience, and hung lights for the SATCos earlier today, for a refresher. Oh, and I’m performing in Theatresports next Sunday. And those are just the bigger items on my agenda.

Here’s a sample week on my calendar:

When I see that page, I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel organized. In control. And with all that on my plate, for the most part, I’ve found that if I can schedule it, I can make it happen. If it’s something I legitimately want to do, and I can assign it a timeslot in my schedule, then I’ll be there. Except…


Except?

Well, the exceptions come as a result of one little side-effect of this schedule: I haven’t been getting enough sleep for the past month

and a half. Consistentย  seven hour nights. And when I don’t get enough sleep, it’s not that I make the wrong decisions, persay, but rather, that I make the right decision, then ignore what I’ve already chosen until it’s too late to do what I wanted to. My brain still works, but isn’t always successful at kicking me into action.

Tonight, for example, I was looking forward to going to a friend’s birthday party, but also wanted some alone time. The decision was clear – to spend a bit of time at home, then show up to the gathering a little late. Except the ‘bit of time’ grew (without becoming more rewarding), because it’s easier to stay at home than to grab a bus. And because I’m somewhat sleep deprived, laziness won out over the decision I had already made. Sorry Jesse.

Which is really rather funny, because this means I am legitimately complaining about my own laziness, in the midst of that formidable schedule. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

But wouldn’t doing so many things make it hard to focus?

Surprisingly, no! Quite the opposite, in fact!

If I weren’t organized, then yes, I would be juggling too much in my head at once. But I have systems: I write a little agenda every night for the next day, and manage that incredibly useful calendar seen above.

I couldn’t possibly keep all my scheduled opportunities in my head at once, so I trust my systems, which allows me to really focus on each individual task, each item, one by one. Effective single-tasking, not frantic multitasking. I don’t feel stretched at all.

 

This Property Is Condemned

Image via Wikipedia

So, Andrew, what have you learned?

What I’m taking from this experience is that, if I get enough sleep (and possibly eat well enough, and have exercise in my life – though those often fall by the wayside as a result of a lack of sleep), my schedule can be filled from sun-up to sun-down, so long as it’s full of activities I find rewarding. My own personal breaking point, my limit, is not in how much ‘free time’ I have each week, but in whether or not I am taking good enough care of myself, physically, to abide by the intelligent decisions and choices I have made.

I’ve also been developing my awareness of when I feel less fulfilled, when I lose a couple of hours on the internet or in a game (when 20 minutes would have done), when a class just isn’t worth my time, or when I back down from a possibility of spending time with excellent people.

 

Ah, but Andrew, sometime you will just need to bite the bullet and spend a good deal of time on something that ain’t fulfilling.

Do I? Do I really? I mean, maybe you’re right. Graduation’s coming up, and who knows if I’ll swing my way into an awesome and fulfilling job… maybe I’ll be stuck editing company memos somewhere so I can pay rent and student loans… but what if, the magic what if, I don’t? What if I can charm my way into an ever happier, ever more fulfilling life? Ain’t that a possibility too?

For now, I do so love my patchwork quilt of a schedule, and until such a future is forced upon me, I’m going to take my time and enjoy it.

So long as I can get myself enough sleep, that is. ๐Ÿ™‚

Enhanced by Zemanta

My full-time summer, one month in.

Previously on Andrew Wade’s blog, our intrepid adventurer set out to make this summer far more theatrical and career-useful than summers past, by sending out a plea for aid, advice, and assistance to help him on his way.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with him in his humble rented room and ask him a few questions:


So, what are the biggest realizations you’ve made, now that you’ve spent a month on the job?

Two things: Responsibility/Leadership and Balance.

I have discovered just how important it is to me, personally, to give my absolute all in whatever I’m doing. On the week I spent writing, memorizing, and rehearsing Heemeyer and the Killdozer, for example, I tried to see if I could squirrel away time at the Centre of the Universe to work on the piece, but, mentally, morally, I couldn’t. Felt like I was betraying the promise I made when I signed back on at the CU, hiding behind closed office doors, setting a bad example for the (younger) co-op students.

Andrew, Lord of the Observatory (photo: Erika Joubert.)

I am not fond of half-assing anything (pardon my English).

This isn’t to say that every work hour I have is productive – unfortunately, certainly not – but that actively trying to do non-work-related activities felt dishonest, because there really were projects (such as building clocks for the different planets) to spend time on.

So I resigned myself to the knowledge that I would be spending my few after hours researching, writing, editing, and memorizing away. Which was actually a good deal of satisfying fun. And needless to say, the performing of the piece was a downright blast, a huge ego-boost, and led to marvellous conversations afterwards.


And for balance?

Life balance, specifically. I’m in my best mental mindset when I have a mix of socializing and alone-time every day, some physical exercise, good nutrition, some performance (which, I’ll admit, includes putting on 45 minute planetarium shows and telescope tours), and some mental creation work (I’ll include both writing and book-reading in this category). On a weekly basis, some God time (typically church) and time spent with children are pretty darn necessary too.

This means that, say, going to the gym each day as I had eagerly discussed with friends, is legitimately tough, because I’m already biking for two hours. (Sorry Graeme, though I really do appreciate all your help, and I am taking your fashion advice to heart.) That said, I am now (as of yesterday) making an effort to use my free-weights every day according to a routine he showed me. Bulk up those arm muscles. GRR. MANLY.

Honestly, my life right now is surprisingly balanced! I go to church on Sundays, teach children about astronomy at my job, and have the occasional great opportunity (thanks Janet Munsil!) and Impromaniacs to tie me into the outside theatre world. Even the bike commute isn’t so tough, though I do wish it would stop raining quite so often. (For the record, busses aren’t an option – they wouldn’t get me to work on time.) (gee, I’m really loving parentheses today.)

True, I may not be honing my craft as intensely as I do during the rest of the year, but I’m not avoiding it. And I am doing some writing, be it in this blog, or hand-written letters to friends, or a monologue about a homemade tank. I should really get on editing my plays and putting them online, mind.


So life is all hunky-dory, then? Perfect and idealized?

Well, of course not – there are always ways to improve. I still spend too much time reading the internet in my few off hours, don’t write quite enough, and spend far too much time at work dithering about. But I ain’t perfect, and I don’t expect my life to be so, either.

There’s also the looming potential that I won’t be able to finish my writing degree this year, as the one course I need to graduate conflicts with my acting classes in both terms. I’ve written an email to the chair of the department to see if we can make a deal somehow, though. So the prayer of serenity will tide me over there for the next few days:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I would like to add, “God grant me clarity and self-awareness, so I can know how to create fulfilling days.”


You might want to work on your method of writing convincing fake interviews, too.

Quiet, you. ๐Ÿ™‚

A look back and forwards.

January 4, 2010 Leave a comment
This picture of banana chips was taken by Kare...
Image via Wikipedia

My 2009.

To be honest, 2009 wasn’t a great year for me. Summed up in a sentence, 2009 was the year I relearned what I had already known, but not taken to heart.

I’m a smart fellow. I figure things out – like what I need to work on as an actor and as a writer, like what I want from a relationship and the right way to pursue one, like what I need to do each week, each day, to stay happy and perky and committed and feeling awesome, like how to eat right, like what I shouldn’t be spending my time on, like how to be who I want to be – like who I am, sometimes. But only sometimes.

And I can think of ways this past year I have disregarded everything in that paragraph. I still jumped into acting roles without taking the time and effort to really turn the words on the page into a living person – to be these characters as full-angled people, with all the subtlety that involves. I didn’t write a single thing of note, all calendar year. Seriously. I didn’t focus enough on why I want to spend time with the people I want to spend time with. I didn’t exercise enough, outside of the summer of hour-long bike rides to and from work. I lost sleep, I didn’t take the time to… well… meditate and pray, and I ate A LOT of free bread. I mean, I cut out the dried banana chips once I found out they were deep fried, but with what we’ve been up to in movement class, etcetera, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be moving toward a body image I’m happier with. Instead, I’m nigh-identical to a year ago. I spent a lot of time completing tasks for the sake of competing them, losing out on why I wanted to accomplish them in the first place.

So yeah, I’m kicking myself.

The year also had its positives. Movement class has been a great challenge for me, and one I knew I needed if I was to gain the confidence to be a strong actor. I have a fantastic, supportive group of people around me and I’ve had the joy of fostering some of those friendships further. I’ve helped people – through peer helping, through roommate-ship, through dramaturgy, through making gifts for no reason whatsoever other than that I got the idea to make them. I’ve had the opportunity to act with some wonderful people, to bring delight to children’s faces and, through Voice class and other opportunities, to internally explore. I got to work with a fantastic group up at The Centre Of The Universe. I’ve performed Improv for audiences on numerous occasions – something I’ve wanted to do since high school. I’ve seen just how much some people care about me. Most of the time, I was happy. And when I needed to be sad, I could darn well be sad. As someone who really worries about how to access deeper, stronger, fiercer emotion, I feel I made some progress there. Still a ways to go.

2010 will be the last full calendar year I’m in school (at least, unless I decide to go back for a teaching certificate), and I still have so much more to learn. I know I’ll be learning all my life, but I need to stop ignoring what I already know. To intelligently live as a whole being, all the time, soul, body, mind, heart, as one ineffably connected being, uncompartmentalized. Unboxed.

This year, any time you see me falling back, please do me a favour and pull me up, set me straight – I’m always up for a pep talk, my friends. I will always appreciate your support.

I wasn’t going to write one of these year-wrap-ups. Thank you for reading this.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]