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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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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. 🙂

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