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Posts Tagged ‘personal development’

High Fidelity

So,

I just finished reading High Fidelity, the book (obviously) – read the last close-to-two-hundred pages in a single go. That’s one thing I’ve really enjoyed about taking this contract – I’ve become a reading person again, and that’s one thing I’ve really missed from childhood – being the kind of person who can just sit and read a book, submerged between its pages, for hours on end, because I need to find out how it goes, because I’ve emotionally and intellectually connected to it.

I’m also a bit of an empathic person in that I tend to adopt the voice of what I’m reading or watching for a little while. Which is why I’m writing this out now, and probably why I don’t watch scary slasher flicks. (Also, I just typed the word ‘flick’, which is British, so apparently High Fidelity has turned me slightly British.)

So it’s sort of a book about a jerk. I don’t entirely relate to that (and please don’t argue the opposite). I’ve been real stupid in life, but rarely with a vindictive sense of malice to it. Not since grade school, anyway, when I would plot to fill peoples’ desks with dirt because I thought they were mean to me. Nah, most of the time, if I’m thinking someone deserves negative stuff in their life, that person is me. But I’ve an affirmational poster on my wall (yes, I’m that guy) that says ‘I am a Good Man‘ (sharpie underlined), and I believe it, most of the time. My friend Jacqui added a ‘And we ❤ you!’ to it that I quite appreciate.

What the book is more about, though, is the triumvirate of the excitement of new relationships, dealing with break-ups, and figuring out what to do in the middle of a relationship. It’s about how much mental space and energy and OHMYGOD these things take up inside a person’s soul. It ends with pretty much an ode to marriage and commitment, because, heck, all of the above just take so much EFFORT, going through those first few steps of a relationship over and over and over again, and long term relationships take effort too, but it’s a different kind of effort; it isn’t the same, stuck kind of effort repeating itself over and over again.

My week has been emotionally a bit rough, probably in part due to this book. It’s all about fixating on past relationships, and, well, it’s not hard to see why that is an issue if you’ve read the second paragraph up there about empathy. And I don’t know if people with regular nine-to-five, five-days-a-week office dayjobs feel like every day is the same, but performing a show is quite LITERALLY SAYING THE EXACT SAME WORDS AND REPEATING THE EXACT SAME ACTIONS EVERY DAY.

(I actually love it, and every audience has a slightly different vibe, and let’s be honest, I usually slightly fumble a couple of dance moves or reverse a line or sing a verse with a slightly different intent, so it’s never exactly the same, but the metaphor is too precise to ignore, so stick with me.)

ANYWAY, as I was saying, I needed to get to the end of the book, so I read it with an intensity – I was trying to divine some sort of wisdom from these pages to help me out, or at least to feel a sense of closure – moreso than I feel from my own life right now. I don’t want to be Rob (the main character) from the beginning of the book. (sidenote: No one should want to be the person at the beginning of the book – they’re the person who hasn’t yet learned what they need to learn to be a better person.) He’s a mid-thirties man who still acts like a teenager because his life got stuck somewhere along the way, and he blames everyone else for it happening. And I, by contrast, am an early-thirties man who is excited to read a book from cover to cover because the very act of doing so makes him feel like a pre-teen, who isn’t sure if this theatre tour he’s on is a life derailment, a career advancement, or a period of being stuck in relational limbo. Probably all three. And I mostly blame myself for how my life is. But I could be more of Rob at the end of the book. Sure, it’s a bit of a cop-out that someone else fixes most of his exterior life, but inside himself, he makes some realizations and he feels the heartdeep of what makes commitment and long-term relationships so meaningful.

Let’s be honest. I’m a 32-year-old man who had only been in a relationship with someone for longer than nine months before my last one, once, and even with the age difference, that really probably was my first time with that heartdeep, that continuity of companionship and all that comes with it, and now you’re feeling awkward reading this because these are the kinds of thing that twenty-year-old men accidentally blubber about when they’ve had too much to drink, or the kinds of things said by pathetic old men still pining over old flames, or maybe those are both images I’m projecting over myself, but I’m going to say the obvious anyway, which is that I want that heartdeep again.

I’m also probably not emotionally prepared to have it again – not that that stops some people – and anyway, I’m on tour now, hopping from Calgary to the Cayman Islands (to visit a happy, committed couple with a kid) to Edmonton and then maybe to Winnipeg and I have NEVER been good at long term planning, always been the person to embrace the ephemerality of life and that’s what I’m living in for the next three to six months whether I want to or not, and I’m going to do my darndest to enjoy it, goshdarnit, to find ways to make peoples’ lives exciting due to my being temporarily, ephemerally in them, as I continue to crawl back percentage points of my heart (yes I think of it in percentages – it’s not a null sum game – the heart can grow! – but percentages all the same), but when I finish leading this webisode, short-story, elseworlds edition comic book time in my life, and have more of my heartdeep to offer, I’d like to find a deep, long novel with someone to live in.

Anyway, this has been my book report on High Fidelity. Cheers.

 

Every Two Weeks.


The Most Honest Man In The World - option 2b - Copy

Every Two Weeks.

 

Partly, I use the fringe circuit as a way to live different lives.

 

To test out different parallel universe Andrews, if you will.


 

For most of the year, there is a routine. Living in the suburb I grew up in. I have my day jobs. The occasional play. Family members to visit, old friends to chat with. My solitary home to go back to, maybe watch a show on my computer. Most of the year is caked, coated, overgrown with my personal history. That isn’t a bad thing, per say. It’s what I have made of my life.

 

But then there’s Fringe. Every two weeks, a new location, a new living situation, a new family, if you will. From seeing what life would be like were I the child of a retired military family who dine on exotic meats and wine in Regina, to sharing a living space with a nineteen-year-old drag queen in Toronto. And I get to be different, too. I have never been a bar hopper, but what the hey, why not head to the beer tents every night this time? Or use this free time to become a bookworm for a few days. Or struggle dearly to be a streetside salesman, pitching my fringey wares. To be the kind of fellow who has a one night stand, or the kind of person who shares in a week-long relationship, seeing a person you care for every single day.

 

Those aren’t the Andrews I am back in Richmond. I’m not that guy. But on the road, I am. And I am. And I am.

 

I dubbed this season, ‘the summer Andrew sorts out his stuff’. With a hashtag. And it’s not just the shows I’m performing. In The Most Honest Man In The World, I really am onstage trying to sort through the neuroses I held four years ago about relationships. Every performance, I want that epiphany, that moment, that ‘aha’ that spurs me forward in my personal growth. The show doesn’t work unless it’s equal parts hope and regret.

 

As The Most Honest Man In The World, I have to face the truth. Who am I? Well, when it comes to relationships, in Richmond, I am a 28 year old man who lives alone with a minifridge and a single bed who doesn’t know how to offer up enough of his life to make a relationship work. He knows what he knows and he is who he is. That man, The Most Honest Man In The World from the play, me at 24, I’m still mostly him. Less neurotic, less nervous, far more centred, but still mostly him. I’m just used to how I life my life.

 

But this summer, each summer, every two weeks, I get a glimpse of what it would be like if I lived differently. If I were someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Or someone else. Every ‘else’ as someone almost me, but in different circumstances, a different city, with different people.

 

Adulthood is partly the realization that you don’t get to be someone ‘when you grow up’. You are what you choose to focus on. In Richmond, there is an inertia to where I devote my focus. But on the road, with Fringe festivals and non-fringe stops inbetween, every two weeks I get to adopt a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. And a new and different focus. What would it be like if I DID devote more attention to this, or that, or this, or that? From Toronto to Ann Arbor to Saskatoon to Nanaimo to Victoria to Vancouver, with everything I own – the artifacts that describe who I am – packed up into boxes, crates, bags, and a lone travelling suitcase.

 

I don’t know which me is going to come home in the end. But I hope that he’s…

 

 

 

I don’t know. I don’t know what I hope for.

 

I hope that he learns how to focus.

 

How to focus better on what’s important in life.

 

Once he figures out what actually is important in life. For him. For me. Once I do. If I do.

Or I don’t.

 

 

There is so much left in this summer.

 

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Saskatoon Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1102726283074871/

Nanaimo Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1597063170563617/

Victoria Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1193881917293983/

Vancouver Fringe: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633245323584144/

 

#TheSummerAndrewFiguresOutHisStuff

Thank you for the tea parties.

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I had cloistered myself up in British Columbia, hid away in school for twenty straight years, I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t get the chances to perform in the real world, once I graduated… so I made a plan. A crazy plan. I decided to write myself a one man show and take it across the country.
       
Andrew Wade 011bI had no idea if I could hold anyone’s attention for an hour. I had no idea if I could write a show that’d work. I threw every theatrical idea into the show, creating a mad, patchwork quilt of ideas, and then threw most of them out. I mostly improvised a run at Vancouver Fringe in 2011. I rewrote the darn thing from the ground up. And then I took a deep breath, spent thousands of dollars, and took my little hat and kettle show on the road. First year, I went to London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon, spent over two months away from where I lived – the longest I had ever been on the road.
       
I got stuck backstage and had to pee in a water bottle a couple of minutes before my first performance. I sold exactly zero tickets to three of my first four performances. I was on greyhound buses for forty-three straight hours. I lost money. And it was worth it.
       
The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONI also met with mentors and brilliant performers who just wanted to help me along my journey. I made friends, colleagues, and talent crushes. I was introduced to the ridiculous art of attempting to smuggle women into your billet’s place without them noticing. I discovered from my billets just how charitable people can be and how awesome retirement is for a lot of people. I traveled the country, flew for only the third time in ten years. I made a man in Saskatoon give me a great big hug, break down, and cry, then loudly whoop at everyone on the street to come see my show.
       
And then, this summer, I brought The Hatter home. ‘Previewed’ it in Port Alberni to an empty town full of good intentions, brought it to Regina and was fed fancy meats while swatting mosquitoes and having a grand ol’ time. Then came the real homecoming tour.
       
Next, I went to Saskatoon, which had welcomed me so warmly, it felt like home. There’s a reason I was able to perform the most personal work I’ve ever written, there: a new show, The Most Honest Man In The World. Me being me. And most people still called me The Hatter, anyhow.
       
Then came Victoria. The big gulp of nervous air, a city of people I had treasured for seven years, then skipped out on when my degree was up. Spent a quarter of my life there. Felt like I was awaiting their judgment, wanting the city, old friends, ex-girlfriends, to tell me I had made the right call, that I’d made something of myself, out there in that bigger ol’ world. And the people who matter, they gave me just that. And oddly, most reassuringly of all, Victoria, well, it didn’t feel like home anymore. The Hatter is a play about searching for home. In its first draft, it was muchly a play of regretting leaving someplace, some people, somewhere. Now, it’s not that.
       
Now, The Hatter is about moving on.
       
And here we are in Vancouver, at home, and The Hatter is about to hang up his hat. No future plans for him. Nothing set. Just one more celebration, tonight at 8:15pm.
       
Thank you for the tea parties.
       
       
The Hat

Fringe By The Numbers: My Reactions

September 7, 2013 7 comments
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My last post, A First Fringe Tour: By The Numbers, already has the second most hits of anything I’ve posted onto my blog. Thank you everyone for your responses and for sharing it around. Here are my own thoughts:

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Yes, I lost money. A fair chunk of change. 1,671.16$ , to be precise. But I’ve been spending money on learning experiences for a number of years now, beginning with seven years of university, followed by the National Voice Intensive last year, and now, this tour. Was I hoping to at least break even? Of course! But to take a wider view, I traveled to amazing cities I’d never visited, had grand adventures, even kissed a lady or two, and got to tell a story worth telling to hundreds of people (okay, 534 people + ushers + technicians) across the country.

For my own personal growth, I desperately needed to travel. It was all 100% worth it. Over the course of two and a half short months, I learned a heck of a lot about theatre, life, and myself, and I can’t wait to get back out there next summer (if the Fringe lotteries are willing to let me).

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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ON* * * * *

As a former professor once told me as he suffered through the first couple of years of his own theatre company, it’s not at all uncommon for businesses to lose money for their first two or three years of operation. This was my first ever tour. Hopefully now I have a tiny base of fans in each city, who might possibly come out and see a show of mine in the future!

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In each city, to keep this numerical, I think I knew 1 (London), 3 (Ottawa), many (Toronto), and 1 (Saskatoon) people, respectively. No hometown advantage for me.

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Hey Fringe Festival volunteers! You know how you happily exclaim to audience line-ups about how lovely it is that you haven’t raised your ticket price from 10$ for the past fifteen years or so? Well, inflation exists, and what you’re telling artists is that they’ve been earning less and less per ticket for every year for the past decade and a half.

I did not once hear a single complaint on the street or in the theatre about Saskatoon’s 12$/14$ ticket prices. Just sayin’.

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Also, it’s interesting that even with a 2$ administrative fee and GST being factored in somewhere, I still came out earning 11.20$ per ticket in Saskatoon, compared to 9.94$ in London, 9.35$ in Ottawa, and a mere 8.92$ per ticket in Toronto.

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Speaking of which, that shortfall in Toronto exists almost entirely due to the five-pack and ten-pack deals in that city. While I love having frequent fringer packs exist, compare Toronto’s 7.5$ tickets to Vancouver’s frequent fringer packs, which still offer 9$ per ticket to the performer. Seriously consider raising those frequent fringer rates, Toronto. You certainly have a reputation as being a place where performers don’t make any money. I enjoyed my time in the city, but 7.5$ tickets are hurting your reputation and hurting a performer’s chances of being able to break even in your city.

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* * * * *Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2

Every city is so different when trying to figure out the right number of flyers and posters. Before I set out, I pre-printed 25 posters and 500 business card flyers for each city. Rookie mistake, as I learned when I saw other performers in London editing their poster files for upcoming cities so as to include London review quotes. Come Saskatoon I finally began taping quotes onto my posters, but printing posters for each upcoming city as I go seems to be the smarter solution.

So what are the right numbers? Well, 25 posters and 500 business cards felt alright for a sleepy Fringe like London, but I could probably have put up 75 posters in Ottawa, whereas getting 25 posters up in Toronto in anywhere worth looking, proved difficult. Also in Toronto, I ran out of flyers before the fringe was half over – I could probably have handed out 1500. As an experiment, I brought 1000 flyers to Saskatoon, and despite the Fringe’s smaller size, still gave out most of them. So every city is different, and I’ve still more to learn! (It also makes a difference as to how many people you have out there, flyering – being on my lonesome can be a downside when it comes to talking up enough lines to find an audience.)

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I gotta admit, it was disappointing to be one of 36 shows in Toronto not reviewed by Now Magazine. A few ‘N’s might have helped! (For a few more numbers, there were 148 shows in the Toronto Fringe Festival this year. 112 of them received a Now Magazine blurb and set (or lack thereof) of shiny ‘N’s.)

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In London, I recall one performer saying that two or three days before the festival opened, they visited Tourism London to ask for Fringe information, and the person there had no idea the festival was even happening. At Nuit Blanche, I (in full Hatter garb) was asked by several people when the Fringe Festival was beginning. That was the second-to-last night of the festival. It seems London is a hard place to get word out about the festival, which was evidenced by my having zero advance ticket sales, compared to 9 in Ottawa, 23 in Toronto, and 15 in Saskatoon. Toronto is very much more of an advance ticket city than the others – perhaps there’s more of a traditional theatre-going habit there? Or is there less financial disincentive to buy advance tickets in Toronto (when compared to additional fees other festivals add onto advance ticket purchases)?

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The Hat* * * * *

I’m honestly impressed with myself that I was able to keep my grocery bills down to size, even while on tour. Chalk it up to a combination of kind billets, hunts for grocery stores, and restraint whenever out and about with fellow performers. You guys feel free to order your meals at the bar; I’ll just wait until I get back to the food I bought with my big grocery trips on the day before each festival began.

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I didn’t have nearly as strong a show at the beginning of June as I did come mid-August. To be honest, it took me until Toronto to figure out the core of what the show was about – a man trying to get home – and so my show pitches for line-ups weren’t great for the first 2/3rds of my tour. Please don’t take any of the above as me making excuses for perhaps not being as financially successful as I would have preferred: I fully accept my tour as it was.

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Which is to say, a brilliant, daring adventure. 🙂

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For another view into my time on the fringe, as well as my original By The Numbers post, I also put up a By The Emotions post which you might enjoy.

As with before, if you think any of this may be helpful to someone out there, please share it on! I hope these posts are worthwhile for someone else out there. And if you have any reactions of your own, please add them to the comments below!

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Happy Fringing!

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Chirp – My Memorial

April 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Two years ago, spurred on by the pug-loving obsession of my then-girlfriend, I asked God to help me learn to care about animals.

Last night, my family’s lovebird, Chirp, died. He was seventeen and a half.

I have never been a big ‘animal’ person. It’s not a fear – despite four years as a paperboy – and it’s not a dislike, just more of an apathy. The only pet my family ever had growing up was this lovebird, who I tended to describe as being ‘like a budgie, only it chirps a third as much and three times as loud.’ The bird who was the bane of my existence whenever I was attempting to work on a writing assignment and had to deal with the focus-destroying shrills of this oblivious, tiny trumpeter.

(I am aware that a trumpeter is also another kind of bird. Where I grew up, all the streets were named after birds.)

From a grade 11 photography project back in 2003.

From a grade 11 photography project, back in 2003.

I was always the one to not-so-jokingly suggest letting the bird go free to fly about and inevitably get eaten by a nearby cat or raccoon. The usefulness of this bird escaped me. Heck, you couldn’t even hold the darn thing or have it perch on your finger unless you were VERY careful and a little lucky, or didn’t mind painful bites from a needlesharp beak. And the bird loved perching up on people’s shoulders… and then attacking their glasses. I was always afraid he would go after the mole on the back of my neck.

When cleaning his cage, I would need to distract him to go elsewhere so I could reach inside the cage without him attacking.

I don’t believe in the idea that he is now off in some heavenly jungle, flitting free. Chirp was a bird. A long-living bird, yes, but still just a bird.

He was a beautiful bird, though.

When I moved away from home nine years ago, I cherished the relative quiet and distraction-free atmosphere of the university dorms, compared to my tiny family home with nocturnal parents, a shared bedroom, and the supersonic bird.

Yesterday evening, when I was visiting at the family house, Chirp pooped on my brother’s arm, and he asked me to take the bird while he cleaned it up. Now, for the past few months at least, Chirp has been getting calmer. Rather than tearing paper bags to pieces the instant they touch the bottom of his cage, he has been curling up in them to sleep. And he has become a nuzzling, warmth-seeking creature. Despite this, yesterday evening was the first time I had held the bird in months and months, perhaps even years. And he curled right up into warmth of my hands, the softest little creature on earth.

I was the one to put him back in his cage. I was probably the last person to hold him before he died.

I just realized I have just switched to using gendered pronouns for Chirp, rather than just saying ‘the bird’.

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I’m not sure where I’m going with this. But I suppose that’s sort of the point.

My Definition of Self-Respect

December 5, 2012 Leave a comment
BeardedAndrew

In Flora, I looked like Lenin.

 

Two days ago I shaved off my facial hair. It’s amazing what seeing a different face in the mirror can do.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling someone my criteria for respect: I respect anyone who actively tries to better themselves. We talked about different ‘ages’ people go through, eras of the self, where we can say ‘I was different then’.

To some people, the idea of such eras is a terrifying thought, for who are we if we are not who we were? But I wear my ages as badges of pride, blazoned on me as reminders that perhaps, just possibly, I am making forward progress into becoming a better me, a quest which I know only ends with my death. Possibly.

But as we discussed, I could feel a weight of stagnation. Or worse. I looked at the now-me and who I was a couple of years ago, and saw a man whose greatest changes were semi-independence and a pool of guilt for a selfish act which I refuse to believe was wrong.

In grade five, in that church, I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw. I decided on the kind of person I wanted to be, and made a firm commitment to continually change who I was into someone better. My definition of self-respect denies anything less.

This past while, I haven’t had any focus on the man I wanted to be. Or I’ve been too anxious to search him out. Or I have cast judgement and sentenced myself to floating in the pool, just deep and flat enough.

So I am making a concerted effort to discover who that next-me should be. What beliefs I need to discard, and which ones I need to build. What I need to do to improve. My definition of self-respect denies anything less.

My self-respect requires nothing less.

I haven’t been a baby-face in perhaps two years. And now, when I look at myself in the mirror, it doesn’t quite look like me. I am staring at someone slightly different. A new face.

Someone I might aspire to become.

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Babyface Andrew

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

A Request for Dreams

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I am good at taking advantage of opportunities.

Every day I go through a dozen craigslist RSS feeds and seek out new posts from currently 97 subscribed theatre website feeds, I check my email looking for audition listings, and I look for chances to connect to the theatre communities I want to engage with. I have attended AGMs for companies I have never worked with.

If a possibility presents itself in front of me, I am skilled at recognizing it, saying ‘yes’ (as we improvisers do), and going for it. I do what I can to ensure that those possibilities DO get to me (see: above paragraph). I have honed this radar to a decent level of precision. BUT…

(and there is always a BUT)

…But I have never been great at the bigger picture stuff. At the developing a dream and pursuing it relentlessly stuff. At the choosing a distant point and doing all in my power to reach it stuff. So I haven’t thrust myself into screen-acting. So I haven’t focused on a single career path. So I haven’t had many romantic relationships.

Even as a kid, I remember the questions of ‘who is your hero’ and ‘what is your dream’. I never had admired heroes who I aspired to become, and I never had an end goal for what I wanted to accomplish in life.

If a Fantastic flaps its wings right before my face, I will follow it to the moon. But I never look at the moon and decide, “I will go there”. I will follow and fly with the sylph, but I won’t laboriously build the rocket ship.

It’s a muscle I’m not toned at using, this business of ‘dreaming’. But I want to learn. I want to become better at it. So I am asking you, my friends, both ones I know and one I haven’t met, to help me in this. Show me the castles in the distance and lead me on the first few steps to get there. Ask me on that date and make me flutter at the idea of more. Show me glimpses of distant possibilities, and help me focus on more than what is merely at my fingertips.

Train me how to pursue dreams.

English: Cover of Summer 1952 issue of Fantast...

Thanks for reading,
Andrew Wade