Yes, 2012. I realize I am somewhat late with this post, but my 2012 has thus far involved rehearsals for three shows, two full performance runs plus performances in three events, three jobs, and one adventurous and perhaps somewhat tragic not-a-relationship thing. But those are for NEXT year’s post. 🙂
My Theatrical 2012, in pictures!
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (as Wakey Faker at The Metro)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (as Throttle, with Fighting Chance Productions)
4Villains.org (just helped out on the set for a day during a weekend trip to Victoria)
Some filming with HTVBC in Victoria. SO MUCH FUN to be the villainous henchman, bleeding to death, laughing as he declares that he’ll tell the hero NOTHING! Then collapsing. Cliche and awesome.
Ran a handful of house-party improv workshops! (Image isn’t mine – it comes care of Jayeb333 on Flickr)
A return to Science World centre-stage shows! (With Grossology and Bubbles! And Balloons added in 2013.)
The Great American Trailerpark Musical (as Stage Manager, with Ghost Light Projects)
The Boys In The Band (as Donald, with Ghost Light Projects)
A Shpadoinkle Musical! (as Frenchie, Elder Cunningham, and others, with Rock Theatre Co.)
The Romantics (Playwright, for both The YOU Show and IGNITE! 2012 at The Cultch)
2012 National Voice Intensive
Golf: The Musical (with Viva Musica’s Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival)
So, most end of year wrap-ups happen… at the end of the year. But with my Christmas Panto not ending until last Saturday and my next show (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) starting rehearsals last last Monday, on top of work and auditions… let’s just say that 2012 is hopefully proving to be just as busy. 🙂
So! Onto the performances, in approximate order. (I don’t have a photo for all of them.)
Improviser, The Impromaniacs, Theatresports/Theatreshorts (Jonathan Argue for The Impromaniacs, and Dave Morris for Theatresports/Theatreshorts) (VEC) – With the advent of Sin City Improv, small audiences, and Jonathan Argue finally stepping away from the helm after perhaps twenty years, The Impromaniacs disappeared into the aether. But the revived Theatreshorts provided a good place for improvisers to get their feet wet and grow as performers. (still on every 4th Sunday of every month at the VEC!)
Malvolio, Twelfth Night (Phoenix Theatre)
Wow. What a role. What a cast. What a production. What pants. A perfect storm of awesome.
Workshop Leader, UVic Improv. – I received four separate requests from four different people, asking me to bring back UVic Improv (which hadn’t been around for over a year). How could I say no? Thank you to Amy Culliford and Blair Moro for keeping it alive this year.
Playwright, Mannequin Men (Phoenix Theatre directing project directed by Christine Johnson, and also directed by Sarah Crowell as part of the Acadia Theatre Company’s Minifest 2011 in Nova Scotia)
Playwright, What I’d Be Without You (Acadia Theatre Company, Minifest 2011). – I really, REALLY wish they had filmed this so I could have seen how it was performed. It’s a short piece I would love to see up on its feet some day. As you can see, the pictures they sent over look amazing.
Willy Beach, the poor boy, Sin City Improv, Season One (ten episodes of a weekly improvised soap opera) – Possibly the most fun I have ever had onstage. And I have A LOT of fun onstage. 🙂
Pischin/Gaev, The Cherry Orchard (directing scene) (UVic – directed by Joelle Haney)
Improv Actor/Dancer, Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons) (UVic Chorus and Orchestra) – possibly the strangest opportunity I’ve ever had. Improvise dance-ish stuff next to opera singers and an orchestra for the third quarter of a performance? Sure, why not! (Thanks to Hayley Feigs for sharing in the experience with me.)
Mark, When We Were Awesome: A Karaoke Musical (UVic Directing Auteur Project – directed by Jesse Cooper)
Presentation Day – Movement Pieces
Presentation Day – Acting/Vocal Masque
Rowan, How Socrates Bought The Farm (Dan Hogg / Jeremy Lutter / UVic)
Stephen Harper at 8 and 18 years old, Wrecking Ball 2 (VEC)
William, William vs The World (UFV Director’s Festival)
Improviser, Good Night Harold! (Intrepid Theatre Club) – arranged by the lovely Kirsten Van Ritzen for some Sin City alumni to play for a night. A reunion of sorts. 🙂
Zacchaeus, (youth event), Adam, Elijah, Peter, Pandamania (Lambrick Park Church)
Monologuist, Monobrow IV (Intrepid Theatre Club)
Bilge Rat, Pirate Adventures (Victoria Harbour)
The King of France, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Soldier, Henry V (KeepItSimple Productions)
Vincent Scott (lawyer), Unsound Innocence (Hungarian TV of BC Foundation)
Stage Manager, Sonnets for an Old Century (Victoria Fringe – Langham Court Theatre)
Director, BFA: The Musical! (Victoria Fringe – Langham Court Theatre)
William, William vs The World (Victoria Fringe – CCPA)
Alvin, Please Print Clearly (short film by Liam Sherriff) (yes, that’s me living in a filing cabinet.)
The Mad Hatter, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (Vancouver Fringe – Studio 1398, Granville Island)
Erronius, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Fighting Chance Productions, Jericho Arts Centre)
Green Gear, 4Villains.org
Wakey Faker, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (Metro Theatre)
And for fun, here’s a list of the day jobs I worked over the course of 2011 (in rough order):
Lab Supervisor – Studios for Integrated Media, University of Victoria
Peer Helping Student Coordinator -Counseling Services, University of Victoria
Student Caller – Student Marketing and Communications, University of Victoria
Compost and Recycling Supervisor – at a convention once.
SAT/LSAT Exam Proctor
Playwright – The Romantics, Vancouver Young Playwright’s Competition (1st place came with a financial prize)
Actor/Playwright – William vs The World, at the UFV Director’s Festival
Actor – Slixer Entertainment (murder mystery dinner and a corporate event – both thanks to the lovely Kirsten Van Ritzen)
This show was a wild ride to finally put together. I had the original idea five years ago, after working on a separate show, Alice From Wonderland, as a SATCo performance (Student Alternative Theatre Company at UVic). A director asked myself and another writer to put together a show with multiple endings and music, based on Alice returning to Wonderland as a professional woman.
Not THAT kind of professional woman.
Anyway, after working on that, I saw how much fun the Mad Hatter could be, as a character. As evidently Johnny Depp agrees. That said, for such a long genesis, I can’t say I had much of a script until… three days ago?
Yeah, this show was put together slowly and quickly. Props, costume pieces, and ideas accumulated over the past few months, but the actual words and depth, I hadn’t had time for during the Victoria Fringe crunch of performing William vs The World, directing BFA: The Musical!, and stage managing Sonnets for an Old Century.
So, we came to tonight, to the first ever performance of The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. A show designed to be an experiment with everything I’ve ever wanted to put into a show – audience interaction, a fight sequence, sing-along songs, an improvised song, friendly semi-forcing-the-audience-to-be-involved-in-the-show… silliness abounds! And all with a heart to it. A core.
A core I discovered at about noon today. The show went up at 10:15pm. Yeah, it was tight. Oh, and we finished making the large hat timeline backdrop prop half an hour before the show began. Wow.
Admittedly, the show is highly improvised and includes a lot of audience interaction, so I can’t guarantee all performances will go as swimmingly as tonight’s did. But it was well attended, the audience dove in and got involved without resentment, and I had two strangers make a point of seeking me out on facebook afterwards to say how much they liked it, saying:
I saw “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”, this evening and just wanted to say thank-you for the great show, and that you’re an incredible performer.
Wicked show – loved it from start to finish. And I had two cups and they were delicious.
Well, doesn’t that just make me all peachy inside!
If you would like to come, I have five more performances! Free tea and a chance to BE the Jabberwocky!
Fri, Sept 09 – 10:15pm – Portion of ticket sales go to the Food Bank
Sat, Sept 10 – 4:30pm
Sun, Sept 11 – 1:00pm – Half Price Show
Mon, Sept 12 – 6:45pm
Thu, Sept 15 – 8:30pm
Sat, Sept 17 – 8:00pm
With a future move to Vancouver on the horizon (without a job or a place to stay yet in place), my needing to leave the house I’m currently living in right in the middle of Victoria Fringe, my pushing to spend valuable time with people in Victoria before my soft exit, and all my many theatrical ventures, life is full and busy and excellent.
Here’s what I have on my plate:
BFA: The Musical! – I am directing this show as part of the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival. It is a fun, silly musical surrounding graduates with shiny new Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees coming to terms with the fact that having a degree does not make you immediately a ‘local celebrity’. The show comes complete with a brilliant seven person cast, a fine tech crew, original and local music, dancing, large props, and much silliness. It is a blast to work on.
William vs. The World is a hilarious, geeky adventure surrounding that narcissistic guy at the hobbies store who knows the world revolves around him. With Chuck, his trusty cactus, at his side, William is happy… until – to his horror – a woman falls for him, the All-Spark fails him, his life falls apart, and William loses himself in Bat Country. Through it all, he may become a better person. Maybe.
Previously work-shopped through UVic‘s Festival for Innovative and New Drama (FIND) and performed at this year’s UFV Director’s Festival, William vs. The World layers references to He-Man, Transformers, Spider-man, Serenity, The Ghost-busters, and pop culture with a frantic, manic character study of a man desperately clinging on to a life that may not be as grand as he suggests it is.
Venue:Venue 12 – Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) – 1701 Elgin Road, Victoria, BC
Sonnets for an Old Century – Completing my triumvirate of Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival shows, as of a few days ago, I am Stage Managing this show, written by José Rivera, a two-time Obie Award-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenplay writer. Which is pretty darn sweet.
I am delighted to get to work again with so many great people in Victoria’s acting community, from Holly Jonson, to Mily Mumford, to Shaan Rahman, to Bill Nance, to Alan Penty (who also features in BFA: The Musical!).
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – Come drink tea with the Mad Hatter!
Share his journey into Wonderland – and his descent into madness – in an overly, underly, and aroundly eager show full of storytelling, songs, audience participation, improv, silliness, gravitas, and grins. Whether it’s your unbirthday or your actual one, this is one show it would be mad to miss!
Tea is provided, but if you can, please bring your own cup.
Show Dates: The first episode should go up by the end of the year.
PirateAdventures.ca – Acting and improvising as a pirate, leading children and adults on a pirate adventure based out of Fisherman’s Wharf. Currently only for one or two days per week.
Venue: Fisherman’s Wharf
Show Dates: Intermittent shifts until I leave town in early September.
Unsound Innocence – Acting as a lawyer in a shortish film by HTVBC– excellent and crazy Hungarians who run a non-profit film company in their spare time. We wrap shooting on Saturday, hopefully.
Venue: Film Festivals
Show Dates: Unknown!
Steinway Grand – Also with HTVBC, this one will be a huge and exciting acting challenge for me – acting in a two-hander film.
Venue: Film Festivals
Show Dates: Should start filming whenever I can jump back to Victoria in Sept/October, I assume!
Vancouver Young Playwrights Competiton / IGNITE! 2012, for The Romantics – I won 1st prize with my play, The Romantics. The prize comes with mentorship by a Vancouver playwright from November through March, and a performance in the festival come May.
Venue: Probably The Cultch.
Show Dates: Performs in May of 2012.
Auditions, auditions, auditions! – Auditioning throughout Vancouver and Victoria. Many ferry rides, trying to secure something, acting-wise, for beyond September. No luck thus far. Which is to be expected. I need to work more on my auditioning prowess.
Venue: Mostly Vancouver.
Show Dates: Never ends. NEVER, EVER, EVER.
The future beyond September is a blank slate, but the next month and a half will be a wild, exciting adventure! Writing, acting, directing, and stage managing for Victoria Fringe (spread over three shows)! Performing a DIFFERENT show for Vancouver Fringe (why, Andrew, why?)! Looking for work and a place to live in Vancouver!
I currently perform in a weekly improvised soap opera: Sin City Improv. The show itself is a delight to be a part of, filled with the best improvisers in town; I feel I’m absorbing so much from working with them. I’m also seeing a side benefit in my dreamworld.
Almost every actor is familiar with The Actor’s Nightmare. It’s that dream of being backstage when someone comes up to you and says you’re late for your cue and need to get onstage, NOW! And you step onstage and the audience looks expectantly at you, judging your every move, and the lights beam bright and hot and sweat pours down and the bottom of your stomach sinks away suddenly as you realize you have no idea what your line is… no idea what to do onstage…
And that’s normally when the actor wakes up in a cold sweat with a deep-seated ache of irresponsibility, insecurity, and guilt filling their throat, their gut, their head.
Well, for the past few weeks, in the midst of a huge transition period for me as I finally exit my life as a professional student and try to become a professional, I have been having different variations on this dream. But they’ve taken a different turn.
I’ve been performing improv, on and off, for the past two years. Perhaps two dozen performances in total in that timespan. And it has been rubbing off, I suppose, because when I have the dream, I’m thrust on that stage, and my mind goes blank, and I… well… I make stuff up. I roll with it. I take control of the stage and say the first thing off the top of my head, and make it work.
Then, feeling pretty chuffed (1st definition) with myself, I step offstage, and find somewhat annoyed co-actors who accuse me of speaking far more than I should have, and of going off on a bit of a ramble, which, in each case, I did.
What do I take from this? Well, it shows that my internal level of confidence is building; if the actor’s nightmare occurs, I know I can handle the situation. That said, I don’t seem to have enough confidence quite yet to believe I can handle the situation very well. But still… improvement!
Even in those nightmarish moments when all the lines fade away, I take stock in the fact that I still have a toolbox of skills at my disposal. And above and beyond that, I still feel comfortable. Beyond comfortable, even. When I am standing on a stage in front of a crowd, with their expectant energies directed toward me, well, that’s when I feel more at home than anywhere else. More free to express myself. More free to go big and be home.
Even on those days when everything else around the craft feels like work, the moment I step onto that stage and create, I know I’m meant to be an actor. Which is why I love improv so much. I’m not the funniest man in the room, but I will gleefully seize onto the opportunity, every time, to just get up and be a character.
The air is so crisp and clear, crackling with electricity, up on that stage. What a beautiful vista.
To always play my characters as being intelligent – as having intelligence behind their eyes. By doing so, I immediately become more observant, and look for new tactics and ‘ins’ in order to achieve my objectives. And eyes are the windows to the soul, after all. Gotta open up the curtains.
Playing objectives strongly (which means knowing them really well, first), creates better, stronger listening.
You’re listening for what you want to get.
Sometimes, it works to, before a performance, embody all the pain another character feels in order to get them in the right place – to interrogate them, mock them, demand of them, belittle them. This was hard for me.
Directly resulting from the prior thought, sometimes you’ve just got to let the gal REALLY HIT YOU before a show for her to really get into the emotional truth of her character. Thankfully, TPiC wasn’t a long run. 😛
When the audience reacts/distracts, listen even more intently to your scene partner.
React. Even if that means the blocking changes. If this feels too uncomfortable, you may not really know your character well enough, or be listening strongly enough.
When you listen for ways, avenues, possibilities to pursue your objectives, the show will work.
What I learned from acting in a scene from Picnic:
My instinct is to shy away from the sleaziness of a character, to not play it, even when it’s there in the text. There’s a difference between being an advocate for your character and ignoring what’s on the page. Learn to revel in the sleaze. 🙂
I realize I am now perfectly comfortable kissing someone while in character. Back in high school, I wished I would get cast in certain roles so that I could do a stage kiss, because I didn’t have nearly the courage to kiss someone in the real world. Would have been nerve-wracking, back then. But I am older, wiser, more experienced now. I’ve even occasionally kissed in real life! 😛
Audiences are less likely to laugh than usual, after just witnessing a 15-year-old girl be raped and have her tongue cut out and thrown at a tree.
Don’t try push the comedy. Didn’t work.
Running on several nights of 5 hours of sleep makes it difficult for me to pay attention to everything happening onstage and get my lines out with decent pacing.
For certan roles, it’s fine to start finding them by using characteristics from a pre-set template. In my case, I modeled the minor character Aemilius, a government bureaucrat who crowns Lucius as emperor, after Mike Novick from The Jack Bauer Power Hour (aka, 24). Piercing eyes, stern disposition, primary desire is the stability of the administration.
Fellow collaborators muchly appreciate personalized thank you cards. 🙂
(note: last year, I had performed the exact same scene, but as the woman, Kristine Linde (in a corset, no less), whereas this time, I was playing it as Krogstad.)
I have a better recollection of the lines my scene partners say than I thought I did! Didn’t take long at all to get back into the words of the scene.
It is A-OK to experiment with different blocking options each time you run the scene, so long as the director knows that’s what you’re doing, and so long as you’re keeping aware in the moment of each decision and feeling which one works best.
Sometimes you need to give your scene partner permission to touch you.
I’m getting better at seeing when I, or my scene partners, aren’t following through on our impulses. Figuring out why that is, requires communication.
What I learned from assorted Improvised Theatre shows and events and whatnot:
It is really satisfying to jump back into a previously created and established role, and to continue on with that person’s story and arc. Pretty much why I enjoy collaborative storytelling (often with D20s). (Die-Nasty auditions.)
If an opportunity seems too good to be true, take it! It may just be silly-awesome-unbelievable. (The butler gig.)
Some shows are doomed from the start, but if that’s the case, take a moment to assess the situation, and figure out how you can put your best effort in to make what you can of it, because the original plan just ain’t going to work. (An Impromaniacs gig where the audience had been sitting around, listening to award speeches for over two hours, and then… well, as Chris Gabel so accurately captured:
Thank you ladies and gentlemen… that concludes tonight’s awards presentation. The bar is now open and there’s cake at the back of the room. Feel free to help yourself. Oh… and now… the Impromaniacs.
Some nights, everything goes right. (Theatresports/Theatreshorts.)
Some risks pay off so much better than you ever hoped. (Improvising a song to the title of “Stars on the Horizon” at the Phoenix Coffeehouse.)
Theatre is ephemeral. (not having any recordings of said song. I was certainly too much in the moment to remember it. So it remains just an experience for the people in the room, as theatre, especially improvised theatre, so often is.)
For selfish reasons, initially, I suppose. As a developing actor, I wanted more time in front of audiences to help myself be as comfortable as possible on stage. I wanted the opportunity to have fun playing a wide variety of characters. I wanted the challenge of being ingenious and imaginative on the spot – to better not just my acting ability but my conversational skills, my charisma. I wanted the chance to take part in the theatre community of Victoria, pushing beyond the walls of UVic. And I feel I’ve found these things. So there’s the selfish side out of the way.
But what I’ve found most enjoyable about performing improv is how we share a sense of fun, and a sense of power, not just with fellow scene partners, but with the audience as well. I know we haven’t had too many people in the crowd lately, but there is such a delight in making someone laugh, in making a person go “Awwww…”, in collaboratively creating characters on stage and between the stage and the audience.
That kind of communal creation is very difficult to achieve in a proscenium arch with a set script, set blocking, and an opaque fourth wall.
Our shows will never be perfect. Scenes will go on too long, characters will lose their way or stop being interesting, lines can be phrased better, a prop can be sorely needed… but that’s okay. The audience doesn’t expect perfection from improv – it expects to be surprised, to be shocked, to care, to see actors struggle but somehow manage to pull a strong moment out of a scene.
An improv audience is not looking to be cultured, to analyze the English language’s foremost pieces of work, or to wow at the production design.
They want to be impressed. To laugh! To have fun!
And that’s an atmosphere I really care about.
Selfish reasons, I suppose. As a developing actor, I wanted more time in front of audiences to help myself be as comfortable as possible on stage. I wanted the opportunity to have fun playing a wide variety of characters. I wanted the challenge of being ingenious and imaginative on the spot – to better not just my acting ability but my conversational skills, my charisma. I wanted the chance to take part in the theatre community of Victoria, pushing beyond the walls of UVic. And I feel I’ve found these things. So there’s the selfish side out of the way.