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)
The old season is ending. Long live the new season.
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.)
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.
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. 😛
(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 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.
1. What do you think of the opportunity to perform here?
This has been an amazing opportunity and a fantastic experience – it really does feel like a ‘next step’ opportunity for me, to have a chance to step out from the community theatre world / Fringe theatre world and be paid to hone my craft not only as an actor, but as an assistant stage manager as well. I have invested a lot of time and money into this career (including a degree at UVic, and recently, some time with The National Voice Intensive), and to be chosen for this festival was honestly a relief – to know that I had the ability to be paid to do what I love.
Another reason this has felt like a ‘next step’ opportunity is the amount of support we actors have received, through billeting, introductions to the city, and other means. Working here has given me the confidence to, say, try to take another show on the road (such as perhaps aiming for a tour of Fringe Festivals).
I like the idea of outdoor venues, and I think we’ve got a great set up here. That said we did cancel two shows due to rain, and as an almost-Vancouverite, I’d be tempted to let the show go on, even when conditions are even a bit dicey. We had a great show that one performance where we went ‘unplugged’ because the audio equipment was too wet! Or shows can take a ten minute hiatus until weather improves. Or we can offer umbrellas or something. Take a risk. Make it an experience. Half of the joy of performing outside is that… well… it’s outside! Weather exists! We can work with that and create something unique.
2. What sort of impact does this opportunity/experience had on you? Your career? Finances?
I am hesitant to keep coming back to the financial angle, but I am approaching performing as a professional career, and part of that equation requires earning at least a decent chunk of one’s income within that profession. Prior to the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I had broken even on a couple of Fringe shows, made a small amount of money in a playwriting competition, and earned 300$ performing at the UFV Director’s Festival, but other than these small successes, I had not yet found that elusive ‘paid theatre contract’. So this opportunity was like blessed manna from the heavens. And while the company may consider the rates to be humble, any paycheque I can earn doing theatre means I have more time in the future to devote to creating and pursuing more theatre, rather than needing to find my rent through a Joe job.
That ‘first opportunity’ is so important for an artist’s confidence. After I won a playwriting competition, I knew I had the ability in that field to create something worthwhile. But acting? Stage management? While I’ve earned a degree in the former and taken on a handful of jobs in the latter, I couldn’t until now point to them and say ‘yes, I have the chops to earn a living here.’
And to be honest? Perhaps the greatest benefit of the whole situation is now I have an amazing experience that I can point to whenever my mother says, ’I know this is something you enjoy, but how are you going to support yourself?’
3. How do feel about the whole experience?
I am over-the-moon grateful for this experience. I’ve now been in Kelowna for over a month – the longest I’ve ever traveled away from my homebases of Richmond and Victoria – and it has been a grand adventure, with two more weeks to go! A terrific growth experience to be sure, and one that I will always cherish.
Some more ponderances from my time here in Kelowna:
When you hang up towels here, the towels actually get dry before the next morning comes, rather than staying damp all week until you put them in a machine!
Further on that note, while the temperature got up to 36 degrees last weekend, I find I’ve not been waking up in a puddle of sweat as can happen in Richmond. Humidity is an odd beast.
The Summerhill Winery’s bizarre concrete pyramid is, well, rather unique. (See photos.) (Also, my first wine tasting!)
Kelowna has more golf courses per capita than any other city in North America. Makes our show, Golf: The Musical, rather fitting.
A silly but awesome store: Milkcrate, a combination vinyl records / pie shop.
It is disconcerting, trying to, erm, use the facilities, when there is a cat on the counter, leaning its face within two inches of your own, staring right into your eyes.
Pretty much every event (such as the Canada Day fireworks) is made better by having an excited five year old boy behind you. ” WOWWW!” “YIPPEEEEE!!!” “COOL!”
While bikes are not a threatened species here, and there are even bike lanes, the city is built for cars and trucks. The bike lane between my billeters and our rehearsal hall passes by two ICBC buildings and a couple of offices for driving instructors. I’ve felt a whiff of an air of defensiveness among bikers, as though they need to justify their existence. As I biked home from the Canada Day festivities, a cheery female biker in front of me, upon noticing my presence on the road, shouted out “BEST WAY TO GET AROUND!”. Yes, it is. But there was just something about the way she said it. (She later, while biking past a woman opening the door to her car, smacked said woman on the butt and kept on riding. I don’t know if they knew each other or not.)
Across from our rehearsal hall is a store named ‘Knifewear’. I’m imagining pants made of quick-edged blades and it just seems like a bad idea.
Where I’m staying, I share the house with four cats and a VERY eager dog (as well as a family). This means that, even when I’m ostensibly ‘home alone’, there is usually somethingstaring at me. I mean, I’m an actor, but having this constant an audience is still somewhat disconcerting.
This is the first time I’ve ever lived with dogs or cats (as my observations make pretty clear). And I’m finding that they remind me of those Skinnerian conditioning models. Take the action of stepping near the dog, and it will, every time, give you affection and attention. With cats, however, the reward mechanism of a muzzle snuggle is chaotic, seemingly random, which can make the reward itself feel more potent. So, different strategies.
Also, scratching cat skulls is weird.
Before I arrived here, a friend of mine described Kelowna as ‘a small town trying too hard to be a big city.’ Just feels like a well-stocked, lived-in city to me. Admittedly, it does have a slower pace than an urban megatropolis (though quicker than, say, the Fernwood area in Victoria). And I mean, literally, a slower pace. The speed at which people walk. Which makes sense, given the population size. (See: Radiolab’s amazing piece on the pace of cities: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/oct/08/).
I suddenly see the aeration benefits of screen doors.
Being a gospel singer is still astonishingly fun.
Was passed by a pick-up truck with two hollerin’ guys in it, a confederate flag in the back, and two decals: one of a hand giving the middle finger, and another mocking the stick-figure family decals by showing two people… erm… engaged in coitus, with the words ‘makin’ family’. So, stereotypes still exist.
I can sing all day long and my voice is fine! Thank you, UVic voice training and the National Voice Intensive!
When the weather stays warm all night, it’s amazing how quickly evening time passes.
Got home from rehearsal. My billeters weren’t home. Went straight to my room… and all three cats followed. Okaaaaaaay…
Dogs make my analytical brain break. Dog approaches, looks expectantly. “Hello, fella! What do you want? Hmm? What, you’re happy now? You just want me to… talk to you? Really? That’s all? Sure you don’t want me to… no, you seem good. Alright then. Erm… hello.”
Surrounded by hills, some tree-covered, some not – makes me feel like I’m surrounded by giant tiles from Settlers of Catan, somehow.
Apparently it costs 500$ to rent a bike for a month. Five Hundred Dollars. Seriously? Wow.
“BURNCo Landscape”. I feel like I already disagree with your business practices.
(Note: this was written while en route to Kelowna, where I’ll be performing and assistant stage-managing for the next six weeks on my first paid-weekly theatre opportunity.)
I am currently traveling by Greyhound to the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. That’s traveling by Greyhound, not be greyhound, though if you attached enough of them to a sled with wheels, I suppose that would work, though perhaps not safe for highway sledding. Or maybe they’d all run in a big loop and I’d never make it out of the first city block.
Merritt qualifies as the furthest into BC I’ve ever been. (Which means that a lot of the award-winning short story I wrote here was based entirely off google and wiki searches). About half an hour before we pulled into this place, I noticed a shift in the landscape, with the earth looking more and more parched, littered with shrubgrass rather than with, well, grass, and the mountains looking less of a uniform wash of pine-green trees and more of a patchy, motley mix, like old socks thinning to the point where holes might break out at any moment. I dub thee, The Lintless Mountain Range. It’s odd to think of such waves of grass having their length kept in check by nature, and not by an over-funded university, city, or townhouse maintenance crew.
On the bus ride there, I was peached to receive possibly the greatest accomplishment a person can ever receive: a young woman asked if she could sit next to me. Now, granted, this was partly because an older woman had stolen her seat while the young woman stepped out to stretch her legs, and I happened to be sitting just one row back of her former seat, but still, she chose to travel alongside me and not next to the twitchy fellows who were searched over twice by security.
I also happened to be on a bus with not one, but four beautiful women, which has made me immediately reconsider my utility approach of wearing comfortable but scrubby clothes on a bus: in this case, my Phoenix Theatre t-shirt publically misquoting our theatre manager with the line “Please do not remove this shirt” on the back. The lack of gel in my thin hair, doesn’t help. I look like I’m balding or suffering from some form of mange.
Next time I travel by bus, I’m wearing a three piece suit.
When we stopped in Merritt for a fifteen minute sketch, I found myself taken aback by the sheer viewing distance from the bus depot. I’ve lived in coastal cities all my life, so the farthest vistas I’ve ever seen are from hiking up a mountain on an island somewhere, or from staring out at the ocean (other than the odd plane ride). Either way, to stand on firm ground and see nothing but land for such a distance is somehow shocking to my senses, like when you’re looking at an optical illusion of an elephant with an impossible number of legs and your eyes tell you one thing but your brain is going ‘”Hold on, woah there eyes, now I know you’re doing your best, and I appreciate all your hard work, but maybe you aught to let ol’ wrinkle-ridges here take over from now on”, followed by giving the eyes a patronizing pat on their retinas.
I think if I ever visit the prairies, I might go insane: an endless vista that will either induce a seizure or turn me into a timelord.
Bus depot rest points are odd locations in and of themselves. I know how my fellow greyhounders (sorry, Greyhounders) arrived, finally dragging themselves into this cigarette oasis in the desert of long distance public transportation, or unnecessarily forcing themselves into using the washrooms as part of a clever stratagem to avoid the potential rollercoaster waterpark fun that is using a toilet in the rear of a moving bus as it navigates its way over great potholes and around screeching traffic.
But the others… There is a man cradling a backpack a little too close to his chest. He sits alone in a field of empty chairs and stares blankly out the window, the window that stares out toward the side of our bus, and not, were he to turn, at the vista of rolling mountains and hills. It feels like a sort of purgatory for those not awaiting heaven, but perhaps sitting around in lack of anticipation for another place just like this one. Bleak.
The foodstuffs they sell here are as stale and processed as the motor oil and carparts they are shelved with. The prices on everything have been hiked up because, hey, people pay more for antiques, right?
No fruit, no vegetables, and the only meats are those kinds that last so long they make you wonder why there aren’t any 200-year-old pigs waddling about the world.
On the doors to the few refrigerated, pre-made items is a sign reading, “Pay for food at the counter BEFORE heating.” Reasonable enough. But the sign reading “Pay for magazines at the counter BEFORE reading” is just being snarky.
When I think about it, though, maybe that’s what these places need. Purgatory is purgatory because it is formless, shapeless, endless, full and empty of nothing. Maybe some personality would a good first step to reviving that man with his backpack, the man who has given up on waiting and entered a state of dejected mere existence.