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Posts Tagged ‘Malvolio’

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

Addicts and Isolations

June 20, 2012 4 comments

ADDICTS AND ISOLATIONS

Warning: This post gets a little personal. Just so you know. But I think it’s valuable to work things out in a public setting, and perhaps you’ll find something you relate to.

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

My whole life I have been afraid of my body taking control of me. It’s time I focus on being whole, instead.

The body is a scary place, not the least bit because it’s where we feel our fear, in the rising of our hair as goosebumps send our follicles reaching to the heavens as though at gunpoint, or that sudden, sickening, nauseous, heavy thud at the back of the stomach, or up and down shivering legs and quaking knees. No, it’s scary because there’s such a lack of self-control and awareness.

Right now, blood is coursing all throughout my body, and I can’t even feel it. If an air bubble were to build in one of those channels, I could be dead in a minute’s time. Or that loving embrace shared with a sweetheart that I know is causing chemical reactions in my brain that are in some ways equivalent to a heroin addiction, so that without my control or, possibly, desire, I might be chemically pulled toward that person for who knows how long. Perhaps forever. The fat cells that actually secrete somethings that cause a person to be even hungrier. The thousand dangerous points where a misplaced punch could end my life.

There is the flipside of this, of course. The lack of a need to actively coordinate and control my breathing and pulse, for example, is much appreciated. Just taking care of that would take up rather a lot of my time. And though we are fragile, we are also incredibly resilient.

English: Human body external features

Human body external features (Wikipedia)

Still, for most of my life I have detached myself from my body, from that moment in grade four when we went over anatomy for the first time. A graphic chart of tendons and muscles and ligaments and organs, of danger and secret rivers. A queasy attempt to feel them inside me. Shudders.

The day I stopped running with abandon and scraping my knees. Never felt all that safe running on wet concrete ever since.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where I was allowed sips of wine or beer at special family gatherings like Christmas and Thanksgiving, which demystified alcohol for me, and allowed me to know that I wasn’t the type to become an alcoholic. I trusted myself on that front. But I did not trust my own willpower (or my body) enough to try marijuana until I was 24. And even that was with one of those, oh, not bongs, but whatever they’re called. And I’ve only tried that perhaps three times, in very safe situations. Because I didn’t want the chance of something triggering, and then being controlled by my body. And while this next fact is to many of you probably TMI (too much information), in order to explore the topic fully I should admit that the first time I masturbated wasn’t until I was 17. Because I didn’t want to become some horndog boy controlled by his body. I wanted to be me.

Honestly, there is a lot to be said for detachment, to feel like one’s head is a conquering crab atop an inert granite slab of a body. Puzzle solving and analytical solutions. An ability to calmly enter situations, debates, and problems that cause others to yell, scream, run and hide. I’ll pick up the spiders. I’ll put on that harness and scale the wall. No superstititions. Stability. Intelligence.

So yes, a lot to be said for detachment. But not a lot to be felt. For some people, this isn’t such a problem. But me, I’m an actor. I’m someone who wants to be in loving, romantic relationships. I’m someone who, now, at least, wants to be fully human. Not some clever floating head, but a grounded, emotional, grokking individual.

Malvolio and the Countess

Malvolio and the Countess (Wikipedia)

This is part of the reason why I was drawn to acting in the first place. Here, on the stage, in the script, are all these characters who deeply feel and yearn and reach. This is why Shakespeare is so fantastic, because his characters speak and feel honestly and openly. The jealous ambition in Iago, the crushing betrayal in Malvolio, the naive love of Lysander. I’ve always wanted to play the role of the lover onstage, because, well, it’s lovely to love someone. But to a typically detached person, it is also so very satisfying to rage injustice, to hate someone, to scorn someone, to grieve for someone. In the twinned poles of acting, where one side is sheer and incredible imitation without sensation, and the other an out of control trainwreck of overwhelming, cascading emotions, I have spent most of my life in the former’s camp, while envying those rolling about the floor in tears.

Not envying too much, mind. That would require too much connection to my body. I’ve described myself before as sometimes feeling like a stuck pickle jar that just won’t open. Which can sound tragic, but when you are that stuck pickle jar, it is an annoying but not at all overwhelming sensation. It’s more of a feeling that something is missing, like you’ve left the house and you’re on the bus, but you know you’ve forgotten something at home.

Figure 15 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

Figure 15 from Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. (Wikipedia)

Then, a year or three back, I made a conscious and vocal decision to find a way to more deeply access my emotions. Partly, I worried if that depth was really there. I did research on sociopaths and autistic tendencies. Someone loved me more than I loved them, and I didn’t know if I was even capable of equally caring about them as they did, me. I was concerned. But not distraught. That would require too much connection to my body.

I recall breaking up with someone and being overwhelmed with sadness in that moment, one of only three times in my life that I can recall being so taken with grief, and even as I was breaking two hearts, a fair chunk of my brain was cheering because that moment showed that there was indeed potential for me to be an emotional individual. To be swept away by the tide of a moment.

I’ve recently spent five weeks at Canada’s National Voice Intensive, run in part by the brilliant David Smukler. When we begin the program, we put into words what we believe our ‘dragon’ to be. I said I was afraid that there was a ceiling to my growth as a person, some barrier I would never be able to cross, blocking the world of pow’rful love.

One activity had me shouting out a line to ever increasing distances. After getting the placement in my mouth just right, and feeling the breath, I found I could technically boom it out there, but… but I knew there was so much more within me, like I was only using two of the eight cylinders to my engine. So much more potential for my voice. When Smukler told me that the other cylinders would come with (and forgive me if I’ve misunderstood) real emotional intent, my first instinct was utter surprise. Apparently my first reaction to great emotion is to cringe inwards, to hide it, rather than to communicate it out to the heavens.

In university, I tried to access emotions like a man at the gym tried to access muscles โ€“ with isolations. Need to be panicky? Alright, I’ll focus my breath at the base of my spine. Need to be all lovey-dovey? I’ll try to place my breath and concentration at my heart. Intellectual? The back of my neck. All very specific, and for the rest of the time, my breath would sit up at the top of my lungs, assured that there was always an ocean of breath below, which was never actually being accessed.

Possibly the biggest technical thing I learned at the intensive was that breathing out fully is the only way to fully allow the new breath to enter. I can be confident that even at the vacuum point, there will still be air enough in there.

But even though that’s a technical statement, it’s the first step in feeling as a full-bodied person. I am not a head attached to a body. I AM a body, with a head brain, a gut brain, a heart, and yes, even a libido.

To grok something (a verb out of Heinlein), means to me, to understand something with one’s whole body. To feel it as well as grasp it intellectually, so that the feeling and the knowing come together to be this one felt, active knowledge, this… grokking. I want to grok life. To grok love. To grok my characters and their situations. To grok myself and my situations. And that won’t happen unless I allow myself to be a physical, intellectual, emotional, whole-bodied person who breathes from the lake within me and allows every new breath to be a wonderful, gutfelt discovery.

Hopefully some of these sentiments resonate with you on your own journey. Thank you for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

My Theatrical 2011 in Pictures

January 19, 2012 1 comment

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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!)

Photo by David Lowes

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.)

Photo Credit Lachlan McAdam

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)
  • Pirate (Actor/Improviser) – www.pirateadventures.ca
  • Director – BFA: The Musical! (hey, I earned money on it. I’ll count it. Thanks to the marvelous Meghan Bell.)
  • Background Performer/Extra – Big Time Movie
  • Improv Workshop Leader – for a birthday party.
  • Assistant – Ursa Technologies Ltd.
  • Science Facilitator – Telus World of Science

If you’re curious about any of these projects, don’t hesitate to ask!

See you all this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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UVic – An Exit Interview

May 11, 2011 4 comments

Through a contact I made being a Student Caller for UVic (calling prospective UVic students and asking them if they had any questions about campus or their departments), I was asked to answer a few questions for a Student Profile piece of publicity. I thought it might be worthwhile to share my answers here as well.

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My former home.

1. Why did you choose UVic for your studies?

Wanting to stay in BC and pursue a BFA, my choice came down to UBC and UVic. UBC’s campus was a large sprawl, and with my family living in Richmond, I would have been commuting for an hour each way, to and from school, every day. I didn’t want my university education to feel like a job, with a long bus trip every time I wanted to reach campus.

When I visited UVic, the size of the campus felt right. I liked the feel of the campus, both in the layout and in the intangible sense of place that it has. I’m fond of describing Victoria as a city that pretends its a small town โ€“ people walk slower here, in less of a hurry, with less stress. It’s nurturing.

Coming to UVic gave me the independence from my family that I needed to grow as a person, the institution gave me confidence in what they would teach me, and I felt free to explore a wide variety of interests, taking electives all across the campus.


1B. What topics/areas of your academic program are you passionate about?

I came to UVic uncertain whether to pursue a Writing degree, or an Acting degree. I chose Writing, and a year and a half later, realized I had made a mistake โ€“ I missed acting dearly, while still enjoying my writing. So I enrolled in the theatre department as well, engaging in concurrent degrees.

I am passionate about creating memorable characters that audiences can breathe with, can understand. Potent characters that audiences relate to in a way that sparks insight. Self-knowledge. I once had someone break down into tears over a play I wrote about letting go of one’s childhood, told from the perspective of the imaginary friend. Those tears, that emotional release, is the biggest compliment I have ever received.

So I’m passionate about helping people with my art, any way I can.


2. If you travelled from outside British Columbia, what made you choose BC? Was the West Coast environment a factor in your decision?

I came from within BC. That said, not being entrenched in Ontario snow, or melting under the sun of the American South, is quite the benefit.


3. What has been the best part of studying at UVic so far?

Engaging in the campus communities, be they the marvelously tight-knit theatre department, or the more reserved writing department, or the compassionate Peer Helpers, or the positive Students for Literacy, or the ambitious political slates, or even the university senate itself โ€“ a community comprised mostly of faculty that I was privileged to be a part of for three years.

Glee! Photo: David Lowes

Within the acting stream, it’s hard to choose a specific class, as most courses build off each other, with acting, voice, and movement classes through the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of the program. So I’ll cheat a little and choose the performance credit I received for acting in Twelfth Night in the department. The show was an amazing collaboration between dozens of individuals, creating a passionately fun production that sold out every night, with line-ups an hour before each show, and was critically acclaimed. It was professionally, socially, academically, emotionally, and personally so satisfying. I was gifted with an incredible role, Malvolio, and the final emotional moment of the play. I won’t ever forget the experience.


4. What advice would you give others who are considering studying in at UVic or in British Columbia?

Connect with campus communities. Go join clubs, get into politics if that’s your thing, volunteer, audition, whatever’s your bag, make the effort to connect in every way you can. My first couple of years on campus, I didn’t, and I found myself somewhat lonely. But when I became engaged with everything happening around me, that’s when the campus came alive, blossomed into a vibrant, spirited entity that I shall miss dearly.


4B. Is there anything you wish you had known when you were thinking about UVic in your grade 12 year?

I wish I had known how easy it would have been to really explore the campus… I wish I had gone during a school day and just wandered around, maybe snuck into one of the larger classrooms, asked students and professors what they thought of the place.


5. Have you gotten involved in any on-campus extracurricular activities (clubs, volunteering, employment) while at UVic?

I have! My two degrees took seven years โ€“ plenty of time for on-campus extracurriculars. I played a few collaborative storytelling sessions with the Games Club; I volunteered with Students for Literacy, reading with elementary school children on campus for one year, and at their elementary school another year; I volunteered with Peer Helping for three years, providing one-on-one counselling and learning skills support for students on campus, while also being paid during that final year, as a Peer Helping Student Coordinator.

I twice ran to be a director at large for the UVSS, but wasn’t elected either time. On the flip side I ran three times โ€“ and was elected or acclaimed each time โ€“ as the Fine Arts Student Senator for the University’s Senate. I worked 7-15 hours per week on campus for six years as a lab supervisor for the Studios for Integrated Media โ€“ a workstudy position in the Fine Arts computer lab. I also, for five years, served as an editor for the Writing Student Union publication, This Side of West.

I acted in over a dozen shows on campus both with the theatre department and through groups like the Big Ideas Club. For one year I worked as a Study Leader for PEAK UVic, leading study groups for first year students. I also spent a couple of weeks phoning prospective students, answering any questions they had about UVic.

So yes, I became involved. ๐Ÿ™‚


6. Have you gotten involved in any off-campus extracurricular activities (clubs, volunteering, employment) while at UVic?

Through UVic’s co-op program, I was able to find full-time employment through five summers of my degree. I worked first as a Granville Island Ambassador in Vancouver, directing lost tourists. The next summer, I got a co-op job as a Science Facilitator at the Telus World of Science in Vancouver, encouraging curiosity in children and performing a Grossology centre stage show which included making fake snot and putting a fake wound on a child’s arm, before feeding fake ‘poop’ (really just cocoa powder, oats, and water) to a professor character.

After that, my next summer sent me to TRIUMF, a laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, where I served as a tour guide. Quite the learning curve for a Fine Arts student, but I enjoyed it.

My following two summers were then spent at the Centre of the Universe, a public outreach centre at the Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics. So I went from exploring the insides of atoms to explaining the outer reaches of space. Glorious.

I have also done a fair bit of acting off campus, including currently acting in Sin City Improv, a weekly, improvised soap opera.


7. What do you like to do when you
โ€™re not studying?

The same things I was doing while studying โ€“ act and write! Though as I am now graduating, I may finally find the time to do some reading, perhaps attempt to paint something.


8. Do you intend to stay in BC or Canada after you have graduated?

I do. I mean, if Los Angeles wants to fly me down to film a movie, I suppose I’ll let’em, but I’m coming back. ๐Ÿ˜›


9. What do you think you would miss most if you left?

For Victoria, specifically, I’ll miss the nurturing atmosphere, the environmental awareness, and the temperate weather. But to be honest, what I’d miss most are the warm, loving, talented people. My friends, my colleagues, my communities.


10. Do you have any other comments or experiences you
โ€™d like to share about your time in Canada, in Victoria or at UVic?

The heart of any place is its people. No matter where you are, if you can find a warm, positive, nurturing group of people who push you to become better, then that place can become a community, can become a home. I found this at UVic, and I’ll be sad to finally cross that stage, accept my degrees, and walk away.

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Cheers,

Andrew Wade

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Twelfth Night Post-mortem – Gratitude vs. Ego

March 20, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Photo by David Lowes

Photo by David Lowes

It has been two weeks since our theatre went dark on Twelfth Night. Two weeks since the last audience cheered and clapped and sang All You Need Is Love alongside us. Two weeks since that eye-sparking performance-high that comes with a job well done and well received.

The post-show crash is well known among theatre folk – that time of feeling down after closing night. For weeks, we were filled with the energy of hundreds (thousands, even) of people filling us with their eager desire to be entertained, to be empathic, to feel, to understand, to believe.

Photo by David Lowes

My own post-show crash resulted in a fairly significant case of sniffles, but I chalk that up more to a closing night party with much alcohol, followed by a somewhat cold 5am walk home. ๐Ÿ™‚

I find it hard to leave an amazing show, and a great role, behind. I did with The Wiz, I did with Iago, and I do now. I still want to stand up and be Malvolio, night in, night out, for months longer, but I don’t have that opportunity. Today, I need to inhabit other characters. With two weeks left in the school year, I have characters in a directing scene, in a vocal masque, in my own written plays, in movement pieces (group and solo), in a karaoke musical project, in a dance piece alongside a chorus, orchestra, and singers… all these individuals need to breathe and flow through me now, so here I am, writing a post to say goodbye to my dear friend, Twelfth Night. There will never be another production like it; such is the ephemeral state of theatre.

Photo by David Lowes

I honestly haven’t known quite how to deal with the success of the show. I try to focus on gratitude in my life, on being grateful for what is offered to me, and with this role, wow! Such extremes, such choices, such comedy, and to be given the final scene of the play, to be made a focus in the final moments… I am so blessed. Really, I am.

I’ve had a woman walking her dog stop me in the street to tell me how much she liked my performance. I’ve had strangers at parties, after I introduce myself, sheepishly say “I know; I saw you in Twelfth Night, you were great”. Heck, I’ve had CBC Radio say I was ‘A Malvolio for the ages’. I must say, all these compliments, they’re flowing right over the top of my gratitude reservoir… I don’t know how to hold them properly.

Photo by David Lowes

As an actor, I am self-employed and always looking for new employment, always needing to prove my abilities to others. Which is an interesting challenge. So with the reaction from his show, I’ve also been dealing with the careful balance between letting people know about these accolades and not bragging too much. I admit, I have occasionally gone too far.

Contrary perhaps to popular opinion, actors don’t tend to have great senses of self-respect or healthy egos. I am also a writer. We certainly don’t. It’s easy to get down on oneself in theatre, because every performance, once done, cannot happen again, and there is always that doubt of whether or not the next performance will work. With writing, it’s much the same way – who knows whether I’ll be able to write another half-decent thing again? So when compliments come along, it’s important, in my mind, to hold on to them. To really listen to them. So I write down a few of the best compliments I’ve received. I keep them to look at in my darker moments. And I keep a wall of thank-you cards and warm fuzzies.

There’s a balance between celebrating compliments – being grateful – and being egotistical. And the necessary act of promoting oneself honestly, as an actor or as a writer, may sit somewhere in the middle. I find this a hard balance to keep. That said, I don’t put much stock in a fear of my becoming that egotistical actor with a superiority-complex, because already I can feel the doubts settling in, especially as I graduate, on whether or not I’ll ever get to play such an amazing, sparkling, fantastic role again, with such a delightful, supportive cast.

Photo by David Lowes

Fortunately, I’m also a playwright, so I have a bit of power in what roles are possible for me. But this show will never happen again. Not with these people, not with this amazing cast and crew, this fantastic direction, this artistic style, this music.

Twelfth Night, I’ll miss you. And while I don’t need to forget you, I can’t dwell on you, either.
New adventures need my full attention.

Photo by David Lowes

Prior Twelfth Night posts:

Twelfth Night – Losing the Stage Business
Twelfth Night – Finding the Fun

Twelfth Night – The Art of Comedy

Twelfth Night – Review Recap

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Twelfth Night – Review Recap

Here’s a recap on some of the reviews of our Phoenix Theatre (UVic) production of Twelfth Night. I fully admit to picking out the quotes that spoke about my performance. ๐Ÿ™‚

CBC Radio (Dave Lennon):

Photo: David Lowes

“This production of Twelfth Night, I’ve gotta say right off the bat, one of the best I have ever seen… it has got high energy, the cast is eminently likeable… and most importantly, it is memorable… Everyone speaks perfectly, enunciates clearly, and they’re kind of grooving to the text; they know what they’re saying. ”

Andrew Wade’s nasally prudish, stick-in-the-mud Malvolio is one for the ages. He is a suit among amongst a stage of puffy shirts, flared pants, and velvet jackets. He is the one character who just doesn’t get it… He is the guy you want to give a ginch pole to in the schoolyard, but at the same time you just want to hug him and say everything is going to be alright. Wade turns him into the most sympathetic prig I have ever seen

Kesinee Haney, she was so good, the way she quipped her whip-smart banter with her superiors, gently mocking them, and the way she sang the lead on a whole lot of songs, she’s a commanding presence out there.

“It’s trippy, it’s moving, it’s funny… You know, the final scene almost brought me to tears, even though it had this sort of triple wedding thing going on. When the hurrahs subside, there’s poor Malvolio, he’s centrestage, ringed by joyous lovers and wellwishers, he’s a beaten man, Gregor, he’s a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and he’s crying real tears, and while he’s crying, the whole cast bursts out into ‘All You Need Is Love’, joined by the audience, the night I was there. You can’t take your eyes off Malvolio in the middle of all this. It’s beautiful and awesome.

Times Colonist

Photo: David Lowes

“During Wednesday’s preview performance, the obvious standouts were Cobi Dayan as Sir Toby and Andrew Wade as Malvolio โ€” both amusing and lively.”

“Twelfth Night wasn’t ever intended to be taken too seriously. Hardy’s direction is witty and slightly irreverent, and seems to encourage a welcome genial warmth from the cast.”

“As the boozing, cavorting (and sometimes dope-smoking) Sir Toby, Dayan exhibits welcome comic chops. He captures the character’s blend of the dissolute and the fun-loving, making him the irresistible rascal he needs to be. And Wade does well as Malvolio, who’s Sir Toby’s opposite. The actor carried himself with a certain stiffness in posture and gesture โ€” he provides the “dignity” that must be present, in order for us to enjoy his fall.

 

Photo: David Lowes

Monday Magazine:

Kouryโ€™s Cesario is well-balanced, with his (or her) affection for Orsino occasionally bubbling to the surface but being quickly subdued, with Edmundson and Volke also delivering quality to their leads. But some of the best moments arguably came from the supporting characters and sub-plots. Cobi Dayan as the booze-soaked Sir Toby and Andrew Wade as Oliviaโ€™s stuck-up servant Malvolio provide much comic relief.

Victoria News:

Photo: David Lowes. (though I had spikier hair in our actual shows.)

The University of Victoria Phoenix Theatreโ€™s Twelfth Night, or What You Will most certainly is fantastic.”

“…rows of smiling faces revealed each time the dreamy, psychedelic lights swept across the sold-out opening night crowd…”

“Fencing duels with golf clubs; backflips, somersaults, chase scenes across a revolving stage โ€“ there was enough energy bounding about the set to make even the laziest ex-hippy want to get up and smile on their brother. With court musician Andrew Gillot churning out musical punch lines โ€“ in the form of a well-timed riff here, or opening bars to โ€œDay Tripperโ€ there โ€“ barely a moment in the show wasnโ€™t used to its fullest.

Following Kouryโ€™s wholly convincing (and rather charming) final moments as Viola and Andrew Wadeโ€™s hilarious unravelling as the love-duped Malvolio, the lively cast proved themselves worthy of filling seats for the last nights of Twelfth Night.”

Culture Vulture:

Photo: David Lowes

“It was a great performance across the board…”

“At that level, which is, you know, sort of pre-professional level, you can really start to see and recognize theย  students, the actors, who are going to be the stars of the future… I thought the guy that played Malvolio, it was Andrew Wade, and Sarah Koury, who played Viola, you just watched their eyes, they never broke, they never looked nervous, it was just so comfortable for them… the guy who played Fabian, Mik… people who belong onstage.”

Well, shucks.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Prior Twelfth Night posts:

Twelfth Night – Losing the Stage Business
Twelfth Night – Finding the Fun

Twelfth Night – The Art of Comedy

Photo: David Lowes

Twelfth Night – The Art of Comedy

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Twelfth Night @ UVic

Still a beautiful poster.

What makes a comedy click?

Here we are, half-way through our delightful run of Twelfth Night at UVic – my final university mainstage – with seven shows in six days to go. With a positive review, almost entirely sold-out shows (ignoring a snowed-out preview with a boistrous half-filled house), and with audiences who are honestly laughing louder and harder at the end of the two and a half hour play than they were at the beginning, I’d call it a grand success!

I am told that a good way to judge how well an audience is enjoying a show is to see how much coffee they buy at intermission; if they purchase gallons of the stuff, it’s a sign the play isn’t holding their attention. If they abstain, and stick to the treats, then they’re engaged in the action. Well, for our show, I am delighted to say that coffee has not been popular at all, though our wonderful patrons have certainly bought a lot of snacks. Huzzah for measurable, causal effects!

coffee addict

Image by bess grant via Flickr

I should admit that I have a guilty pleasure in going out into the lobby after the show and talking to patrons and friends. I like to hear what they enjoyed about it, what they thought of it, who stood out for them, which scenes. Even the backhanded compliments (“It was a lot better than I thought it would be”) are intriguing. I like having that extra connection to the people paying to see us act.

Well, for this show, the number one comment I’ve heard, night in, night out, is, “It seems like you’re all having a lot of fun with this show.” I would say eighty percent of the comments I receive are to that effect. And we are! Absolutely!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s possible for an actor to pretend they are really enjoying himself onstage, and then step off and be a dreary wreck of a person (as I admit I’ve had one or two moments of doing so, just for a moment, after a scene if I have flubbed a significant line). We’re actors. We can pretend to be happy. But a comedy is intended to lift people’s spirits, to give’em grins and laughs and knowing chuckles. What better way to do that, than to really enjoy the show you’re in?

Olivia, character in Twelfth Night by William ...

Image via Wikipedia

Through the run, while waiting in the wings, I’ve experimented with a couple of different mindsets. For one trial, some nights, as a very serious character, I have kept fully within the confines of Malvolio’s personality and sneered in disgust at, well, mostly everything. In an admittedly still rather silly manner. For my other trial, on other nights, I have allowed myself to just enjoy the show as myself, up until ten to fifteen seconds before my entrance (enough time to connect to my given circumstances/emotions). Until that point, however, I am backstage, dramatically (and silently) playing the scene currently going on (typically as Viola or Olivia, for added humour), or (again, silently) tittering at silly castmember antics, or just generally (silently) giggling to myself. Then when it’s almost time for my entrance, I take a few breaths, and storm onstage to lambaste that insufferable Sir Toby for being so loud at the late hours of the night.

Die Gartenlaube (1863) b 453

Image via Wikipedia

Thus far, by all accounts, my better performances have come from the second trial, from taking as much delight as possible in our putting on this fine, dandy show.ย  In this comedy, I’m a better performer when I allow myself to be thrilled and excited and silly backstage, especially about what’s currently going on, onstage. When I’m connected to the show and having fun.

Note, this is not to say I am being unprofessional. I hold the upmost respect for actors who want a minute or two to get into the headspace of their next scene, and I certainly wouldn’t aim to distract the actors onstage, or any nonsense like that. But I am enjoying my nights with this show.

There is, of course, a danger in playing up the comedy, the humour of the lines, while onstage, rather than playing the honesty of the scene and of the character (which is crucial for the comedy to succeed), but in this post, I am referring to my backstage mentality, and indeed, the mentality of our cast in general. We adore putting on this play, and, for us graduating students, we are delighted to end our time at UVic and at the Phoenix Theatre with such a joyous celebration.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

(p.s. I hope to see you in the lobby this week!)

Previous blog entries on Twelfth Night:
Twelfth Night – Losing the Stage Business

Twelfth Night – Finding the Fun