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An interview on The Hatter and life in the real world with The Marble

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

       
The Hatter onstage in Regina - Photo by Shelby Lyn LoweBefore The Hatter hangs up his hat later today (perhaps forever?) with a show at 8:15pm, I wanted to add here my emailed responses to a rather well thought-out email interview/preview I had with Matthew at The Marble.

The preview can be found here: http://marblevictoria.com/post/95353607472/the-hatter-preview-matts-interview
       
1. Well it’s been a while since The University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre Department. What have you been up to since then?

I have been off in the great wide world! By which I mean, in the past three years, I have moved to the mainland, performed in 26 different productions for at least 16 different companies, taken three self-written one man shows (William vs The World, The Hatter, and The Most Honest Man In The World) to fringe festivals across the country (Victoria, Vancouver, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatoon (x2), Port Alberni, and Regina), directed a talent show and a new fringe musical, got nominated for an Ovation Award, was picked as one of Richmond’s ‘30 under 30’, stage managed or ASMed for five productions, had a story make it onto CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera DNTO, acted in a couple of no-budget films, and learned the true meaning of Christmas. Okay, maybe not that last one. Oh, and I have a half-dozen or so part-time jobs that pay my rent and let me disappear whenever I get a theatre gig. Phew!
       
2. That Hatter’s been following your around a lot in the last few years (or at least that’s how it’s looked whenever I’ve had a chance to peak into what you’re doing.) How did the two of your first cross paths?

The Hatter and I actually first met at The Phoenix at UVic! A directing student, Rene Linares, asked myself, then a mere writing student, and Marynia Bienkowska-Gibbs (another writer), if we could write for him a play about Alice returning to Wonderland as a professional woman. This became a SATCo production. So we did! And as we wrote it, I found myself really connecting to The Mad Hatter, really enjoying writing for him.

So when it came next to write a new one man show, there was a satisfying hook there.
       
The Hatter in Port Alberni - photo by Cara Baldwin 023. I was tickled pink at the mention in your press release that you’ll be exploring the character’s, “serious emotional problems,” which could neatly sum up several personalities in the Alice series. Tell me, how much have you taken from the source material and what did you expand on?

When I was looking to write that new play to try and tour in Fringe festivals across the country, I also wanted to explore anger and what it means to lose control of oneself. If you’ve ever read or watched Alice in Wonderland, you know it can be succinctly summarised as ‘A whole bunch of characters yell at an innocent girl.’

In the story, Alice is rejected by many of the characters in Wonderland, and does all she can to escape it in turn. But what if someone landed in Wonderland, and never wanted to leave? And what if they were forced to go?

My writing philosophy also points me towards whatever scares me, and I remember one moment in high school where, without any thought or decision, I instinctively grabbed someone who was bullying me by the throat and shoved them into a chair. I was the most shaken up person about the whole moment, because… aye… it was like it wasn’t me, doing it. (Note: That’s the only time this has happened to me.)

But what about a character who has moments like that occurring throughout his life?
       
4. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered in your developing of the character, the most frustrating and, finally, the most fun?

The most surprising thing about the character of The Hatter, for me, is how desperately he wants everyone to be happy and jovial and delighted and wonderful. Figuring that out turned the show from a variety act into a story of a man trying his hardest to host a silly, happy party, but everything keeps going sideways.

The most frustrating part has been trying to connect this character with a wider audience. He looks like his should be a show for kids. But it’s not. Out of the first four performances I had in the London Fringe, the first time I really got the show on its feet… only one of those four performances had any purchased tickets. The tour picked up from there, but aye, a somewhat terrifying start. How can people know how good this show is, if no one comes?

The most fun part of developing this character, for me, is that he dives into everything, 100%, be that leading a singalong, telling a poem, summoning a Jabberwock, or trying to improvise a silly song on his own. Nothing quite works out the way he wants it to, but it is so much fun to give it a go. Also, I love those moments – such as when they have to step over broken plastic cutlery to get to their tea – when audience members realize that this isn’t a show like anything they’ve seen before.
       
5. The last time I saw you at the Victoria Fringe (2011) you were directing one show, acting in another and assisting in another. You looked savaged by the time it was over, but (other than the merits of organization) I’d like to hear what you took away from the experience and how you feel about your return to Vic Fringe?

I am SO looking forward to coming back! I consider this whole summer my home-coming tour in many ways; I’m returning to Saskatoon (where I had a 4.5 star review last summer), heading back to Victoria (my home for seven years), and then back to the mainland. And as for the mad experience of directing, stage managing, and writing/performing three different fringe shows at the same time, all I can say is, when I graduated, I was sorely worried that I wouldn’t get chances to work on theatre in the real world, so I made certain to say yes to every opportunity that came my way.

I still, mostly, live that way, and I don’t regret that decision in the slightest. Gotta be at the edge of your abilities to really grow and improve and evolve.
       
6. Tell me more about the actual show, what’s in store for the Mad Hatter?

After Alice left Wonderland, The Hatter found himself troubled by little sparks of memories rushing back at him, triggered by his his interactions with this small girl… and it isn’t long after that, that he wakes up one day and finds himself in the real world, in Victoria, and not in Wonderland at all. So he decides to host a Tea Party, the silliest, happiest tea party ever, a shard of Wonderland, to try and find a way back home. (And you’re invited!)
       
7. Now that’s you’re several years out of theatre school, I’d really like to hear your retrospective as well as any advice to young people starting up there or about to graduate and go into the big wide theatre world?

Be rabidly ambitious, endlessly cooperative, and calmly patient. Very few careers in this world happen right out of school, regardless of the field. Never mind in such a frivolous and amazing arena as theatre. But know that the theatre communities out there are full of people who want to help you, who want to support you, and who would love some support in turn. Find those rent-paying jobs that offer up the flexibility to let you keep pursuing what drives you, excites you, fills your boots with glee. And ask the elders… pick the brains of the theatre people around you and find out where they get their opportunities, where they want to go next.
       
8. So as a performer, is there anyone you’d say you took inspiration from more than others?

Oh, inspiration comes from all over. Sometimes, the reassuring kind, where older actors tell me how much easier it is to find work when you’re one of the four 70+-year-old actors in town, rather than one of a million 20-somethings. At other times, the blistering heat of coming across someone who is so pumped up to get to be doing what they’re doing. Or the reasonable kind, seeing how actors pay the bills and getting that calming feeling of ‘I could do that’.

Honestly, the most inspiring thing is just being able to look back at the last three years and see a slight progression towards doing more and more paying acting, writing, and other theatre work. Slowly expanding that portion of the income pie, until hopefully someday it can reach right around. (Or at least do its very best Pacman impression.)
       
9. Distilling it all down, why should folks come and see The Hatter?

Come to see a 4.5 star reviewed show that has been described as ‘like nothing you’ve ever seen before’. Come to have a free cup of tea, meet a man, have fun, and be moved. Come to help out a fellow trying madly to get home. Come because the best of Fringe Theatre is all about walking into a room, engaging in an experience, and then walking out, saying, ‘I don’t know how anyone in their right mind came up with that, but I am so glad I got to see it.’
       
10. Finally, what tea can patrons expect to be served?

It’s The Mad Hatter’s tea party! You’ll have dozens of options to choose from, and even some mustard and relish if you want to add a condiment or two.

See you at the tea party!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter
   
(Their resultant review can be found here: http://marblevictoria.com/post/95810700942/the-hatter-charming-stranger-review )
       
The Hatter in Port Alberni - photo by Cara Baldwin 01

The Road To Kelowna (or, Merritt Musings)

June 28, 2012 2 comments

The Road To Kelowna (or, Merritt Musings)

(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.)

Greyhound racing Français : Lévrier durant une...

Greyhound racing (Wikipedia)

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.

English: Dryer screen containing accumulated lint.

Dryer screen containing accumulated lint. (Wikipedia)

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.

Staring into the Untempered Schism.

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.

Though I’m sure Merritt is a lovely town.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

How to be labeled a Renaissance Man by your University

April 8, 2012 1 comment

How to be labeled a Renaissance Man? Follow every opportunity, and then agree to be profiled for University publicity, apparently.

Let’s pick up a copy of the University of Victoria’s 2012-2013 Canadian Viewbook and see what’s inside!

No, those aren't my feet.

 

 

Aaand… head over to page 10…

In the infamous open-all-the-way-down-the-sides Twelfth Night yellow leather pants.

Or for a closer look…

Well, gee.

Here’s the text (based on my responses to their questions):

A Renaissance man in the purest sense, Andrew is a little bit of everything. He’s an actor, writer, director, student senator, peer helper, faux physicist, editor, study group leader, part-time lab supervisor and rare sleeper. And he’s been to enough cast parties to fill up three memory cards with photos. Spy him volunteering in every nook and cranny of campus when he’s not churning out yet another five-star performance on the main stage of UVic’s Phoenix Theatre.

“Go join clubs, get into politics, volunteer, audition if that’s your thing; make an effort to connect in every way you can. When I became engaged with everything happening around me, that’s when campus came alive.”

They even included a link to this blog! How kind.

And now that I have graduated, and have since been an actor, science facilitator, playwright, stage manager, tutor, director, pirate, extra, web assistant, improv workshop leader and more (as can be seen on my photographic wrap-up of 2011, found here), I’m happy to not be proving them wrong.

Life is full and rich and fine indeed.

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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.)

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. 🙂

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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How I came to terms with the Ephemeral Nature of Theatre

August 7, 2011 Leave a comment
Melting ice cream on a bridge

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“Meaningless! Meaningless!”, says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes, New International Version.

In the New International Version of the Bible, the Hebrew word ‘Hebel’ translates as ‘meaningless’, but the Hebrew word – admittedly being poetically employed – literally meant ‘vapour’, ‘breath’, or ‘absurd’. Or, to use a more theatrical term, ephemeral.

“Ephemeral! Ephemeral!”, says the Teacher. “Utterly ephemeral! Everything is ephemeral.”

It can be too easy for us theatre artists to develop inferiority complexes. Paintings survive for centuries. Musical scores play on. Films and television shows rise again on DVDs and stream on Netflix. But a theatrical performance happens once, and then is gone.

Charity show

Image via Wikipedia

We theatre artists wrestle with the question of whether or not what we are creating is important; after all, what perseveres? Do we really contribute to society if the creation ends the moment the final curtain falls? If there are no monuments standing at the end of our resumés?

Do we deserve that allotment of charity funding that could go to another non-profit society?

But we are not the only ephemeral creators out there, flitting about in an ocean of solid substance. Everything is ephemeral. The permanence of other mediums is an illusion. We all create works that move the hearts, minds, and spirits of both our audiences and our collaborators, and then our works disappear.

Different mediums have different strengths and weaknesses (which I have even attempted to chart at one time), but permanence? Everything is ephemeral. Just like theatre. Just like life.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Melting Down

Image by Yogendra174 via Flickr

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Predicting Future Careers

Arabic Question mark

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Predicting Future Careers

It is said that people of my generation will have more careers than ever before – the world moves too quickly, too insecurely, too excitingly, for many of us latch on to one profession and hold it for 40 years before retiring. That in mind, I thought it might be a good thought exercise to try some long term planning/predicting on my own career threads as they weave through my life.

Essentially, I have just highlighted certain areas that excite me, and am extrapolating somewhat from there to guess at when each thread might assume some degree of prominence.

Note: The year I designate as the year the career starts suggests that it becomes more of a focus in that year – not that the new career eliminates prior careers (I take them as cumulative). For example, I plan on acting all my life – the subsequent careers don’t exclude doing so.

This is far from an exhaustive list.

PAST:

1986 – Born in Lansing, Michigan, USA
1987 (eight months old?) – Moved to Richmond, BC, Canada
1990 (age 4) – FIRST CAREER – STUDENT – entered kindergarten.
1993 (age 8) – First acting role as the title character in The Littlest Christmas Tree.
1996 (age 10) – Entered Late French Immersion.
1998 (age 12) – Entered Hugh McRoberts Secondary School. Performed in over a dozen theatrical productions while in high school.
2004 (age 17) – Directed Opening Night.
2004 (age 17) – Awarded the Outstanding Theatre Performance Award from Hugh McRoberts Secondary.
2004 (age 17) – My first venture as a playwright – Teenspeak performed Pinecone Wars, an exaggerated, autobiographical story from my elementary school days. Brilliant to experience.
2004 (age 17) – Entered the University of Victoria, in the Writing program.
2006 (age 19) – Missed acting too much. Joined the theatre department as well.
2006 (age 19) – Auditioned for the acting stream. Did not get in.
2007 (age 19) – Assistant stage managed (props) for Wind In The Willows. 31 actors and almost 400 props in the show.
2007 (age 20) – Auditioned for the acting stream. Got in.
2007 (age 20) – SECOND CAREER – SCIENCE FACILITATOR – Second summer co-op work term, as a Science Facilitator at the Telus World of Science. Included designing a puppet show book.

Question mark in Armenian

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2008 (age 21) – THIRD CAREER – WRITER – Won second place and honourable mention in the Vancouver Young Playwrights Competition – Hullaboo and High School Noir were performed the next summer at IGNITE! 2009. Had script chosen for the CineVic Film Slam – “The Just The Facts Ma’am Show”; the subsequent (really well done) video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN0ZEJmpIJM .
2008 (age 21) – Acclaimed to UVic Senate as the Fine Arts Student Senator.
2008 (age 21) – Third summer co-op work term, as an Outreach / Tour Assistant at TRIUMF, Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics. Included designing tour signs.
2008 (age 21) – Awarded the Keith Provost Memorial Scholarship in Theatre for possessing Keith’s special qualities such as dedication, a love for acting and playwriting, a humble gratefulness for opportunities, a positive and upbeat nature, a free−spirited and somewhat rebellious side, and an unselfish and modest attitude.
2008 (age 22) – Joined the Impromaniacs.
2009 (age 22) – Elected to UVic Senate as the Fine Arts Student Senator (had to defeat someone else in the election this time).
2009 (age 22) – Fourth summer co-op work term, as an Astronomy Interpreter at the Centre of the Universe / Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics (HIA-NRC). Included making posters.
2010 (age 23) – Acclaimed to UVic Senate as Fine Arts Student Senator.
2010 (age 23) – Fifth summer co-op work term, again as an Astronomy Interpreter at the Centre of the Universe / Herzberg Institute for Astrophysics (HIA-NRC). Included making posters for guest speaker events.
2010 (age 23) – Won the Martlet Short Fiction Competition for A Journey of Barren Landscapes.
2010 (age 23) – Won the Keith and Shirley Wagner Prize for Writing – Most outstanding achievement in the field of dramatic writing, stage play, radio play, or script.
2011 (age 24) – Won 1
st Prize in the Vancouver Young Playwright’s Competition for The Romantics, to be workshopped, then performed in May 2012.
2011 (age 24) – Performed with Sin City Improv. Huge highlight.
2011 (age 24) – Won UVic’s Humanities, Fine Arts, and Professional Writing Co-op Student of the Year award.
2011 (age 24) – Graduation from the University of Victoria with a BA in Writing.
2011 (age 24) – Graduation from the University of Victoria with a BFA in Acting.
2011 (age 24) – Performed self-written William vs. The World (then William Fights The World) at the UFV Director’s Festival in Chilliwack. First time ever performing a longer piece of my own writing.
2011 (age 24) – Act in the film Unsound Innocence with Hungarian Television – my second project with them.

 

The Question Is What Is the Question?

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POSSIBLE FUTURE:

2011 (age 24) – FOURTH CAREER – ACTOR
2011 (age 24) – Audition for Bard on the Beach.
2011 (age 24) – Directing BFA: The Musical! for the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival.
2011 (age 24) – Performing self-written William vs. The World at the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival.
2011 (age 24) – Learn how to drive.
2011 (age 24) – Move to Vancouver area.
2011 (age 24) – Performing self-written The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival.
2011 (age 24) – Return to the Telus World of Science? (Hopefully? I need to contact them this week about seeing if that’s a possibility).
2011 (age 24) – Otherwise, work to pay my rent partly through extra / background performer work.
2011 (age 25) – I make my plays easily accessible online for cheaply licensing performances.
2011 (age 25) – Act in film Steinway Grand with Hungarian Television, in Victoria.
2011 (age 25) – Physically strengthen myself, so I can better remind people somewhat of a young Marlon Brando. 🙂
2012 (age 25) – Find a film and TV agent.
2012 (age 25) – Audition for Stratford.
2012 (age 25) – Take singing lessons.
2012 (age 25) – Perform at additional Fringe Festivals. Perhaps for several years.
2012 (age 25) – The Romantics is performed as part of IGNITE! 2012.
2012 (age 25) – National Voice Intensive in Vancouver
2012 (age 25) – Perform with Bard on the Beach (Hey, I can dream! And I have performed in six productions of Shakepeare’s plays in the past three years).
2013 (age 26) – Either joins a long-form improv group, or creates one.
2013 (age 26) – Get a short story printed in a well-respected literary journal.
2014 (age 27) – Go down to the States for the TV pilot season.

Opening (inverted) and closing question marks ...

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2014 (age 27) – FIFTH CAREER – STAGE MANAGEMENT – I would love to do more of this. So long as I can act and write elsewhere as well. 🙂
2015 (age 28) – become financially self-sustaining off theatre, film, TV,internet, and writing work.
2017 (age 30) – either get my masters (in acting? Playwriting? Directing?), or enter a conservatory?
2018 (age 31) – First published novel.
2025 (age 38) – If unmarried, may choose to adopt.
2029 (age 42) – SIXTH CAREER – DIRECTOR
2035 (age 48) – SEVENTH CAREER – POLITICIAN – Run for some form of elected office.
2048 (age 61) – EIGHTH CAREER – VISUAL ARTIST
2052 (age 65) – I defeat cancer in hand-to-hand combat.
2063 (age 76) – Canada secedes from Quebec. I have little to do with this.
2084 (age 97) – Final stage appearance.
2085 (age 98) – Witty and wise, die a serene death.

 

Any thoughts? Do you think this is a valuable exercise?

Question mark

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The Director’s Epiphany

July 11, 2011 1 comment

BFA: The Musical!

I am feeling the appeal of being a director.

This summer, I have been blessed with the opportunity to direct a show for the Victoria Fringe. And not just any show. A seven-person show. And not just that – it’s a musical. An original musical. What. A. Treat.

I am, of course, talking about BFA: The Musical! Cue blurb:

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Phil has the tools to become a novelist; he has a freshly awarded Bachelor of Fine Arts from UVic, an artist girlfriend, and a penchant for boxed wine. Under family pressures to attend law school, he questions what BFA really stands for – through the majesty of song. Features music by local artists, including The Chris Ho Show and Immaculate Machine!

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It is proving to be quite the marvelous adventure.

First, some background: I was not a directing student at UVic. I wanted to take the class, but I couldn’t fit it in with the two degrees I was already pursuing (and just this April, finished – a BFA in Acting and a BA in Writing).

The last show I directed happened two years ago, at my church. 30+ children from age 3 to 14 or so in a self-written play based on stories from the book of Luke. With that play, I learned the importance of identifying and highlighting what parts of the script the actors will really enjoy: Ten year old boys love to yell at their parents while pretending to be possessed by demons. Five year olds have great fun pretending to be pigs, then squealing, running offstage, and making whatever adorable noises they think drowning pigs would make. Oh, and everyone can enjoy the meditative edge of a good group storm-making scene with claps and slaps and snapping fingers. I learned I could manage a large group by trusting my instincts, which in this case meant dealing with large groups of children as though they were individual characters (so that a group of actors became a ‘crowd’ character for several scenes, as well as the storm, and so forth). Blocking them as a single character meant visualizing them like they were a school of fish.

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Hearts Are Thumps

Image via Wikipedia

Before that, my last directorial stint came in grade 12 when I directed a show called ‘Opening Night’. In retrospect, casting a nervous, uncertain-of-her-own-abilities actor as the starring role character, who happened to be a nervous, uncertain-of-her-own-abilities actor, was perhaps compounding problems upon problems, but I thought the end result went well enough for high school theatre. Well, for one performance, anyway. And we only had two. For the second, well… our high school theatre shared a wall with the gym, and there happened to be a basketball game that evening. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. I don’t know how so many basketballs can bounce off one wall throughout a single game, and the buzzer was none too friendly. And the sound kid used the wrong CD, so we had birds chirping in the living room instead of a doorbell. Several times. Oh, and part of the set fell down. A large part. And I believe a prop broke. And people came in rather late, through doors very visible (and blinding) to the audience.

Okay, so that performance was a gongshow.

But I learned more than a few things from that rehearsal process. First, I learned how crucial it is for actors to have confidence in their work. Or at least in the production. And I learned how dear and darling and valuable it is to cast actors who put their all into making a show work. I also learned the importance of casting wisely, and with some caution – I like to give an actor a challenge, but I need to make sure it’s one I know I can help them conquer. And my wonderful drama teacher, Ms. JudyAnn McCarthy, showed me how to read a comedic text and find the physical comedy that may not be immediately apparent on the stage. (The show had a bumbling maid.)

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Fringe (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Then, this January, came the day of submissions for the Victoria Fringe Festival. The Vic Fringe, while mostly sticking to a lottery draw as all Fringe Festivals do (where the performing companies are chosen, essentially, out of a hat from all the submitters), also features an early bird draw, where the first 10 people to show up at their door on the final day of submissions get in automatically.

I wanted to perform a one man show of my own, for the first time ever. So I planned. I set an early, early alarm clock so I could get on my bike and ride over there, to arrive at around 5:30am. Their doors open at 10am. I figured that would be early enough. But as I slept, it snowed. One of the three snowfalls Victoria experienced all winter. My bike isn’t equipped for snow, and I don’t have another vehicle, so I was stuck waiting for the first bus of the morning, and when I arrived at 6:30am… there were at least 15 people already in line. My hopes were seemingly dashed. But hey, it’s a line of dedicated theatre practitioners, so I decided to network, to say hello to old friends, and to meet new ones, and as I was doing so, two fellow writing students, Meghan Bell and Natalie North, shouted out to me. They were seventh in line. They had an idea for an as-of-yet unwritten show. A musical. Built around characters newly graduating with potentially useless BFA degrees (as we were). They knew I was in the theatre department. They needed a director. They asked.

How could I say no? Why would I?

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Director

Image by MightyBoyBrian via Flickr

So from one closed door (not arriving early enough), another opened, and I was given the opportunity to cast, co-design, and direct a bright, fun, silly, vibrant musical. Heck, and even that other door opened up, when new Fringe spots became available, so I now have a one-man-show, William Vs The World, performing in Fringe at CCPA. 🙂

But back to BFA. This is the first opportunity I have had to direct trained actors (from both CCPA and from UVic’s theatre program). My first chance to really work with a production team, including Jess Shead, who is an excellent choreographer and actress. And the experience has been SO intellectually rewarding, figuring out how to use my repertoire of acting tricks and improv games to help my cast understand and build their characters, how to use my own prior acting experiences as fodder for successfully staging certain scenes and for keeping the audience’s attention trained in the right locations… and I love it. I truly do. It is a truly collaborative atmosphere, and I treasure it dearly. But what I’ve enjoyed most, are the epiphanies.


The epiphanies.

The moments where the right idea seems to just happen, to conjure itself in the mind. I can see where I’ve learned this or that from prior experiences, and it’s rewarding and satisfying in its own way to put my training and gained knowledge into practice, but that satisfaction grows to a new level when those sparks of inspiration just seem to happen of their own accord.

It can be as simple as adding a character into a scene or switching a prop, to as grand as demanding a specific scene be added, that seem to make all the difference. Why I’m so struck by these moments is because I can’t identify why I thought to try these things. And THAT is what is so exhilarating, because if I can help build this play with inspired thoughts whose roots I can’t determine, then that gives me a renewed confidence in myself, that I can trust I WILL have the right solution to whatever hiccup we come across.

I believe in this show. It will be funny, fantastic, marvelous, and unlike anything I have ever been a part of. And though my directing resume may be slight, I know I can be up for the task.

And that kind of confidence is priceless.

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BFA: The Musical has six performances throughout the Victoria Fringe Festival, and an upcoming music-filled fundraiser on July 23rd at Logan’ Pub.

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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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – and was elected or acclaimed each time – 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 – 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. 🙂


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
re not studying?

The same things I was doing while studying – 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. 😛


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
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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Why not to do a One Man Show.

April 29, 2011 1 comment

(forenote: I wrote this on the ride into Chilliwack. I have actually had a most excellent day with all these fine people. But my comments still stand.)

(addendum: at the end of the weekend, I wrote a companion article: Why you should write a One Man Show. Oh, and the violet haired woman? Amazingly, as we didn’t even get off the bus in the same city… she was on the greyhound bus on the ride back. I asked her to be certain she was the same person. I then had a lovely chat with a middle-aged woman from Nanaimo.)

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Why not to do a One Man Show.

I used to daydream about one day getting on a bus, and travelling to a new city (Portland sprang to mind, or any small rural town) where no one knew who I was. Of starting fresh, behaving and being an ideal me, untethered from all the prior instances of who I’d been. It wasn’t a positive daydream, persay. Just a recurring thought. I wanted to know if this new community of strangers would embrace me, or if it all would just be a lonely experience.

A test of who I am as a person, I suppose.

William Fights The World

Coming to UVic almost fit this bill, but a good eight or nine members of my high school’s graduating class came along with me, and for those first two years as a Writing student, outside of the Theatre department, I mostly hung out with some of those same students, or people they had introduced me to. I never really integrated with my res building’s crowd.

The Phoenix Theatre Department was another close fit to the daydream, but by then, I had enough roots elsewhere on campus (and I was still engaged in the Writing degree) that I felt firmly grounded. And the lives of theatre folk revolve around forming communities and collaborations, so some of those connections happen easier, there.

The daydream – travelling to somewhere where I knew no one, and trying to start a life – arose out of fear. Everything is transitory in this world, including elementary school, high school, university. Heck, even family members move away. I felt I needed to be prepared to be able to step out, alone, and find communities, support, friends, loved ones, wherever I ended up. Because if change happened around me and I wasn’t prepared, that might just break me. No one can live completely alone.

Well, I’m travelling now on a bus to Chilliwack, to a town where I know no one, to perform a one-man-show (William Fights The World) for a few days at the UFV Directors’ Festival. And I’m realizing that if I end up deciding to attempt the Fringe circuit, I want it to be a show with two characters, because… well… while that old worry would be a great challenge for me, it’s not one I want to face. I don’t want to travel alone, to start with a blank slate in every city I come to. I don’t want to be a faceless man in the crowd. I want someone to share in these experiences with me.

And I could have had that, but I shoved it away because I didn’t feel I cared enough about her. Digression.

One of the most courageous moments in my life – if not the most courageous – was on the first day of grade 6, where I committed to starting my life fresh, to becoming a better person. In an attempt to flee from my miserable self, I had joined Late French Immersion. So when I stepped into that grade 6 classroom, it was a new school, a new class, and I knew no one.

The most courageous thing I have ever done was to scan the classroom, see one person not talking to anyone, and to sit down next to him and say hello.

It took every fibre of my backbone to do it.

He became my best friend for two years.

And I’d like to think I’ve grown from that small boy, but sometimes, like now, I could switch seats on this bus and say hello to the young woman with violet hair, sitting across from me. I could. But I don’t.

But I’m only on this bus for another hour. When I introduced myself to Sam Fenn in that classroom, it was necessary – I was to be in that class, with those students, for two years. But if I tour the Fringe circuit, I’ll only be in town for a few short days. Each town. Every city. Is that enough time to connect with people? Is that just enough time to feel miserable about letting them go and moving on?

My time at UVic is done, and much of my community, my class, are already moving on. And I feel like I have already decided that my place isn’t here, in this city, anymore, even though I’m here for at least another four months. But that old worry of a daydream comes back and…

and perhaps because my instinct is not to say hello to the gal with violet hair…
and perhaps because the idea of really connecting with people only for a day or two, and then saying goodbye, makes me sad…
and perhaps because moments seem far more worth living when they are shared…
and perhaps because, unlike in years past, I don’t want to reinvent myself, because I’m beginning to like who I am…

I think I’ll write that Fringe show so that it has someone be there with me.

– Andrew Wade

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Graduation.

April 2, 2011 1 comment

Wow.

Today was my graduation day at the Phoenix Theatre at UVic. For 4th year students, that means a whole lot of performing, a ceremony, and a celebration. For me, this meant:

  • performed a ~30 minute karaoke musical play (including singing ‘Grace Kelly’ by Mika);
  • performed in a collaboratively-written group movement piece with kerosened chickens, magical pills with potential side-effects that include kermit-the-frog-arms and the plague, and the Child Liberation Program (where, as an emaciated, liberated child, I got to be a lawnmower and a kite, before getting shot down);
  • performed a self-written/choreographed solo movement piece where I did a blindfolded roll, grew wings, and stepped off a tower to my death;
  • performed ‘I Don’t Care Much’ from Cabaret’
  • performed a monologue from Lovers, by Brian Friel, where I spoke of my love for my fiancee and hatred for my father, in an Irish accent;
  • performed a triumphant monologue as Mozart in Peter Shaeffer’s Amadeus;
  • and performed my self-written masque – a trek through my non-relationship misadventures, portraying 10 characters in eight minutes, including a riff off The Phantom of The Opera that went something like this:

It is true that, you’re a swearing smoker,
but there’s, something, there that makes me wonder,
your boyfriend’s not too smart,
though you deal drugs, you stir my heart…
is there any chance that you two may just part?
No, nothing between us will ever start…”

All that followed by a celebration ceremony with balloons falling from the catwalk and many, many hugs.

I deal with endings by launching headfirst into new beginnings, new projects, new works. This week, I also performed Theatreshorts and my second week as part of Sin City Improv, and applied for a couple of jobs, confirmed my involvement in a small theatre festival at the end of April… I’m doing that. Heck, after the graduation ceremony, I went to a rehearsal for an orchestra/choir performance I’m dancing for, tomorrow. I’ll keep moving, keep trying to get involved.

But these other engagements aren’t replacements. They’re new, but they’re not the way of life that being a student is, going to classes with the same people, day in, day out.

I’ve been at UVic for seven years. Both of my degrees end this month. SEVEN YEARS. I’m only 24. That’s almost a third of my life. That I’m letting go of.

This is going to take some time.

 

The Class, featuring Linda Hardy.

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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 — 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 — he provides the “dignity” that must be present, in order for us to enjoy his fall.

 

Photo: David Lowes

Monday Magazine:

Koury’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 Olivia’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 Theatre’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 – 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 – in the form of a well-timed riff here, or opening bars to “Day Tripper” there – barely a moment in the show wasn’t used to its fullest.

Following Koury’s wholly convincing (and rather charming) final moments as Viola and Andrew Wade’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 the  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.  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

Twelfth Night – Finding the Fun

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

In theatre, it’s always a good idea to let go of your fears. Heck, in life too.

Twelfth Night @ UVic

Beautiful poster.

Malvolio is a bold, emotionally honest role to play. When he tries to grasp control over a situation, his commands are direct and terse. When he luxuriates in his own pompous sense of self-worth, he luxuriates. When he loves, BY GUM, DOES HE LOVE. When he is persecuted, his anguish resonates throughout the theatre, and when his heart is broken, he shatters. He is not a character for the wishy-washy actor.

(The rather-open yellow costume makes quite a statement as well. Come see the show for a rather visual explanation on THAT.)

When we last left our intrepid hero, he was discussing the difficulty of working through uncomfortable stage business in an important scene, and how honesty was lost. After a couple more weeks of rehearsal, both have been regained.

This past Saturday, we had our 11am-10pm Tech/Dress day for Twelfth Night. We worked scenes and ran the show twice – once in full costume and tech, and once without our amazing garb (well, okay, we wore our street clothes), so that our lovely dressers could have a break from laundry. A good, long day, and a real confidence booster.

I admit, I’d been a little worried over the past week, over my own performance. I’d never quite found a quick enough pacing in the letter scene (which is pretty much a lengthy monologue / read-a-letter-onstage), my advances toward Olivia weren’t quite reaching the bawdy levels they needed to, and I would get distracted by these directory things, which caused me to call line a couple of times in each rehearsal. At this stage in the game, that shouldn’t happen. And at the heart of it, I was worried because I didn’t want to let down all the fantastic cast and crew and design team and everyone else who are putting together this incredible show. It really is quite something.

I don’t get nightmares very often – typically, only when I’m feverish. I remember one from, oh, ten years ago, where I was playing hockey, and I missed an easy shot at the end of a game, and everyone, my team, my family, the fans, were all so very, very disappointed in me. So letting people down is a fear that is ingrained in me, and something I need to continue to conquer.

Revenged!

Anyway, our first run was much like this. I didn’t need to call line, but I flubbed the first part of when I pick up the letter (as my mind was on stage business soon to come), and had a few distracting issues with my costume items (which was to be expected, admittedly, as this was our first run wearing them). I didn’t feel on top of things, and left the run feeling like it was good enough, but I wasn’t overjoyed.

Our second run that day, however, was primarily for the tech crew, so they could get their lighting, audio, and revolve (we have a revolve) cues right, make sure props were where they should be, and so forth. Great for the actors to get another run in, sure, but to do a run in street clothes after just performing it in all our wonderful costumes… there was a… lack of weight of importance to it. And it was a long day. We were getting fairly silly.

Silly putty face

Silly Putty Face. Image by Nathan Rein.

This run, I decided to just have fun. As a worthy experiment, partially, but also, just because I wanted to, and if I was going to misbehave, this was the run to do it. So I was silently singing and dancing along in the wings to whatever was going on onstage, pretending to be a Hari Krishna alongside the others (but just offstage, so as not to be seen by anyone but them)… and it wasn’t just me who was being a bit daffy.

There’s one scene where Sir Toby and his company are convincing Viola, disguised as Cesario, that a knight has sworn to fight her. Viola exits the scene, and the conspirators giggle over their little prank, before leaving in turn. In the next scene, Viola’s twin brother, Sebastian, is being pursued by the fool, in the street. Well, in our second run, Sebastian accidentally stepped onstage, stage left, to start his scene a bit early… right after Viola had gone off, stage right, so that the effect (as they are identically dressed twins), was that of Cesario walking offstage one way, and then immediately coming on the other side. Sebastian quickly realized his error and walked right through, but myself in the Vomitorium and the actors onstage couldn’t stop laughing. I am still surprised it wasn’t on purpose – such great timing. (in his defence, it had been a loooong day.)

Well, I, thinking this was intentional funny business, became even more set in my goofy mood. I still played the part, but I made the decision to deeply enjoy every moment of it, both on and offstage. In a scene where I’m locked in a cellar, with only my hand poking out, I even flipped someone the bird – which the director missed seeing, perhaps fortunately.

Daffy Duck

Daffy. Image via Wikipedia

And with all that energy and vivacity, you know what? It was my best run so far. I really hit the pacing in that difficult letter scene. I went all-in on the silly riding-crop enticements. I nailed every line. Because there was no pressure.

I didn’t need to get it right, so long as I hit my cues for the tech crew, and that gave me so much freedom to go all out, bold, extravagant, while my enjoyment of it all kept my performance honest. Heck, one of our two directors even then asked me, in notes afterwards, to flip the other character the English bird in the very scene I had done it in, unaware of what I had done in the run! Hah!

When I stopped worrying about not doing the best I could for my fellow cast members… my best came through.

Please, do come and share in this great show with me, my final mainstage at the Phoenix Theatre at UVic. We have 6$ previews on Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 22 and 23), and then the run from Feb.24th to March 5th. Click here for tickets.

 

Cheers,

Andrew Wade

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