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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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Theatre is not Archaeology

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment
Portrait of Luigi Pirandello
“Theatre is not archaeology. The text remains intact for those who want to read it at home for personal pleasure; those who want to enjoy themselves will go to the theatre, where the text will be presented cleansed of withered parts and unfashionable terms, and adapted to contemporary taste. The work of art in the theatre is no longer the work of a writer… but an act of life to be created moment by moment on the stage and together with the spectators.” – Luigi Pirandello

From Praxis Theatre’s latest blog post.

 

Performed theatre always exists in the present moment, for a present audience, for a present purpose. Adaptations of old works aren’t heresy; they are new inhalations of breath made by a revived or growing story.

On a somewhat related note, it will be interesting to see Joss Whedon’s take on an ancient text.

Predicting Future Careers

Arabic Question mark

Image via Wikipedia

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 – β€œThe 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 freeβˆ’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. πŸ™‚
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. πŸ™‚
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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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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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 β€” 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 β€” 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 β€œDay 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 theΒ  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.Β  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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Twelfth Night – Losing the Stage Business

January 26, 2011 2 comments

Today was a hard rehearsal. And as it came to a close, I asked myself a difficult question:

Big Fish.

“Am I being a bad actor, or are we just working through a process? Or is it both?”

For my last mainstage production at UVic before I graduate, I am cast in The Bard’s Twelfth Night as Malvolio. I am rather fond of this character, of how he allows me to explore different magnitudes, from his snobby dismissiveness towards fools like Feste and Sir Andrew, to his deepset love for Olivia, to his painful disappointment in Maria, to his protectiveness as he aims to shield Olivia from being taken advantage of by Sir Toby, and to many other shades. He needs to be played honestly, but fully.

I especially like the Romantic-Comedy-esque moment of Malvolio learning to smile and declaring proudly and giddily to the world,

“MY LADY LOVES ME!”

Great fun.

For the past few days, however, we have been working the scene where Malvolio, transformed by the belief that Olivia loves him (though she doesn’t), comes to her to accept her (falsified) proposal of love. Malvolio is, until this point, a prim and proper man, in a full business suit, but in this scene (in our version), he wears yellow leather pants that are stitched open all the way up their sides, an open black vest with a bare chest, and a riding crop. For naughty business.

A Riding Crop

A Riding Crop, via Wikipedia

And what business we tried. Yesterday, we went all out in the seductive/sleazy route, pushing Olivia to take the riding crop and slap me in the rump with it, to the point of getting down on all fours and presenting my butt in the air, and so forth. This sort of dominatrix desire approach is… well, certainly foreign to me, but I gave it the ol’ British what ho and tried my best. Honestly though, rather than just being very awkward (I’m a better actor than that), I found myself instead drowning in a mental list of “remember this line, and on this line, hold crop like so, move just like so, hit self like so, keep point of focus on this specific part of her, oh, and try to listen,Β  then move here to do this….”

Spanking Douglas

Less of this.

Essentially, I lost the scene, lost everything in an assembly line list of instructions. Now, actors need to be able to ‘walk and chew bubble gum at the same time’ as our director, the charming Linda Hardy, likes to say – that is, we need to be able to say our lines and remember blocking while playing a scene, certainly. But all this business with the riding crop and getting down on all fours and pretending to be a lion while being seductive and emoting the text… I lost Malvolio to it all.

So today, coming back to the scene, we tried to go back to that idea, and it was a forced, awkward mess. So Linda had us go back to brass tacks, back to the emotional, honest truth of the situation. A man enters a room, believing with all his heart that a woman loves him. A man pursues that while realizing he needs to talk in code, as others are around… before finally he just goes for it and grabs her, dances with her, kisses her copiously. No forced ‘use the riding crop in this way on line one, then this way in line two, then this way in line three…’, just a more natural flow that can now be worked on and solidified. And I really feel like Malvolio doing his best to be a Casanova, rather than awkwardly trying to force him into a becoming a closeted BDsM desirer.

Malvolio and the Countess

More of this.

Still, I felt guilty, like I had failed somehow in not being able to make Linda’s original thought work for the scene. Shouldn’t a good actor be able to make any stage/acting business work for their character, if the director asks for it?

So after our rehearsal ended, I went up to Linda and apologized somewhat sheepishly. She told me my apology was nonsense, that her directing style was to try one thing, and if it doesn’t work, to try something else, and so forth, swimming about until we hit upon a right way for the scene. A brainstorming, prototyping process. After all, why force the first concept if there are obvious difficulties?

And while my ego isn’t entirely put back together again, I understand. After all, above all else, the honesty, the eager, earnest truth of the scene, needs to be there.

That is more important than any stage business.

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Othello Day 4: Post-Closing Second Thoughts

March 5, 2010 1 comment
Andrew Wade as Iago

Andrew Wade as Iago. Red eye-liner and whiteface.

All projects have at least three steps – pre-production, creation, and evaluation. Gather resources, use them, think about the effectiveness of what you’ve just made.

The third stage is where all the damned insecurities can creep in.

Tuesday night was the final night of our scant four evening run. Four nights, ~300 audience members, ~1,800.00$ raised for the Victoria Shakespeare Society. The biggest role of my life thus far. Over in four nights. I could have played him for months.

And what a marvelous experiment it was, to prove to myself that I COULD play such a significant role, Iago, the character with the third most lines in all of Shakespeare (still a lot, even in our ~2.25 hour long production). The character Samuel Coleridge describes as having “motiveless malignity” (which is not a very easily playable consideration for an actor). Such a hugely physical, and even, yes, sexual role, to stir up Roderigo‘s lust for Desdemona and Othello‘s epilepsy over Cassio‘s supposed actions. And by and large, according to the audience reactions and my own overall impression, I pulled it off.

My wonderful stage manager, April Fortin, on several occasions remarked that while all our patrons enjoyed the show, most of the comments she received consisted of complimenting how unsettling, two-faced, and, yes, evil, my performance was as Iago. Several people commented on how great they found it that I could twist into such hatred, then resettle myself and turn around as honest, honest, Iago, friend to all. One patron said I was better than the Iago that played at Bard on the Beach.

I’m listing all these compliments to build up my ego for what I am exploring next: the second thoughts.

But Andrew, all those comments on your portrayal being evil – Surely that meant you were missing the humanity of his character? After all, don’t all villains believe what they’re doing to be right?

Well, yes, and no. Iago specifically acknowledges that what he is doing is Villainy (“Hell and night shall bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light!”), is devilwork (“When devils will the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows, as I do now”), is evil. But I do think he believes what he is doing is right, just that he absolutely acknowledges that what he is doing is both right and so very, very immoral. My Iago really did feel everything he is putting Othello through, really does feel he lost his wife to this savage thing the moment she and Othello copulated together. So I don’t feel I played the mustache-twirling melodrama side too much, though there is certainly a glee he feels when his cunning plans come into effect. Plus, with make-up like what you see next to this post (yes, that’s me), there’s no getting around it in the design of the show.

But, Andrew, what about that line you misinterpreted, where Iago’s mention of “my lady” refers to Desdemona, not Emelia, his wife? Doesn’t that ruin your whole motivation, remove the proof that Othello had slept with her? How dare you continue performing with a mistaken line reading!

Faith, that was not so well, but I maintain that Iago still felt everything he puts Othello through, even on the mere suspicion, even if it is never proved. And yes, I could have changed how I was performing that scene, but I actually like the miscommunication, with he and Othello referring to two different people. I’m not sure what a difference changing that meaning would make for the audience.

Weren’t you playing against a white Othello? Does that make your play racist?

(Note: I never said second thoughts always made sense. They just linger.) Quite right, our Othello was white, which is why our design pushed everyone else into white-face and black clothes while he wore furs with tribal make-up. Does this ruin the integrity of our production? No, certainly not. The important aspect of Othello’s character is not that he’s black; it’s that he’s an outsider who gains power, a military man with a savage bent within him. Sure, we had to edit a few lines, and a few others make a little less sense, but I don’t feel bad that we went ahead with the show even after no black people auditioned (Victoria, BC, Canada has a very, erm… white theatre community). It’s a powerful show that deserves to be performed, and I am proud to have been a part of it.

But, Andrew, couldn’t you have found better blocking? I’m sure you weren’t getting lit right for some of those scenes, especially when you chose to roam about the stage.

For a show being put on in a non-theatre designed space, without a tech rehearsal, where the lights were still being put up with half an hour to go before the first performance, I think we did pretty darn well, thank you very much. I actually got quite a kick out of the improvisational element of moving to find the light on my face for certain moments, and I appreciated being kept more in the dark for some of my roaming asides.

Aren’t you worried about Iago creeping into your real personality? You were rooming with him for a couple of months, after all…

Well, I did type ‘damned’ near the beginning of this post, but no, I’m really not worried. I feel quite centred in myself. In fact, if anything, I’d say being Iago helped me better connect my body to my emotions in general, day-to-day life, and I certainly discovered the benefit of proper vocal warm-ups before doing anything exerting on that front.

But… but… but… you’re not talented, you… stupid… person!

Okay, insecurities, I can see you’re running out of steam, so I’ll let you go now.

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Othello, Day 2: Acting when Blanking

Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh as Othe...
Image via Wikipedia

I am an analytical man; I like to examine a problem from all its angles and determine a solution. In theatre, this leads to much quick pacing and minor hair-pulling the moment I get off a stage where things have gone wrong.

Our second performance was a strange night for theatre; it was the day of Canada’s gold medal hockey win and the olympic closing ceremonies, so we were peached by the attendance of our smaller crowd of ~40 people who emerged to see the show.

As an acting group, our energy seemed quite low – the dreaded second performance of any show always seems to bring with it a lessened enthusiasm for some reason, with less punch behind the lines and less spring in our steps.

This was also the performance where I completely blanked on two of my lines – two hefty paragraphs, rather, in two separate scenes, one before and one after the intermission. I can’t remember ever losing lines to such an extent in a performance.

Had it been one line, I may have dismissed it and simply resolved to go over the line in more detail the next day. After all, we managed to hide my first slip well enough, with myself improvising minor Shakespearean quips while waiting for my scene partner to figure out his next line and work it in. We went off the track a little while, but hopped back on, andΒ  the audience seemed none the wiser.

Had it been two paragraphs in the same scene, I might have worried somewhat about my connection to that one moment, and delved further. But these were two different scenes, two different emotions, same sorry scene partner (my bad, Ryan). And the second blank wasn’t so aptly handled.

No, that time was a calamity, a definite blank, where I kept in character but had absolutely nothing to say, and for what felt like five minutes, but was probably fifteen seconds, I stared at Othello, helpless. And Ryan Levis’s eyes throbbed with “say your f***ing line. SAY YOUR F***ING LINE.” I don’t swear, but his eyes were darned profane.

My only salvage was to lean over to him as if whispering in his ear… so that he could feed me the beginning of my line by whispering in mine.

And so, backstage, with cast members telling me not to worry about it, I set about the mental ordeal of determining why this was happening. After all, I’m trained! I’m a professional, dagnammit! I had warmed up my body, warmed up my voice, read over my lines, rehearsed the fight scenes, gotten into character, into Iago‘s body, what else could it-Β  Ah. Right.

For such a complicated endeavor, so often acting comes back to basics. Why was I blanking on my lines? To paraphrase a sentence, sure, that may perhaps just be a memorization issue. But blanking, that situation where all words are stopped from your breath like a cork in the esophagus, where the scene disappears and sweat creases along your brow and the whole darn room is as silent as a dead toad and the other characters become other actors, staring at you with strained hope… that’s not memorization at all. That’s losing your objective.

In the scenes where I had blanked, I hadn’t focused on my objectives, on what I wanted in the scene, so when the lines stopped coming, there wasn’t that drive of why I am saying what I am saying that brings the next line on.

Amazingly, my non-theatre savvy friends in the audience didn’t realize anything had gone wrong, though a professional actor friend of mine, had. So for most people in the crowd, they had witnessed a dramatic pause, nothing more, and apparently had nothing but praise for my performance. Whew.

When I auditioned for this show, I decided to take it as a great learning challenge – the largest role with the most lines I have ever undertaken. Believe you me, I’m learning.

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Othello, Day 1: Creating an Active Audience

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment
From the Library of Congress: *TITLE: Thos. W....
Image via Wikipedia

Our opening night had a tremendous turn-out, over seventy people there to see the show and raising ~450$ in donations for the Victoria Shakespeare Society.

Energy ramped up considerably, to the point where the fights were verging on real, with myself finding it difficult to breathe in a couple of strangleholds, and I was also stabbed in the leg with a sword (left but a slight mark).

What this building energy resulted in for my acting was, surprisingly, that while I hit all my lines, specific words disappeared from my lips; I must have used at least 20 synonyms throughout the night, with lines switching from, for example, “What, shake you at that?” to “What, tremble you at that?”. But every scene was hit, and hit well.

It was also the first night we had ever used the lighting; we hadn’t been able to put them up for our rehearsals! But I naturally move to where the light strikes my face, so all was well there.

What really struck me (other than the sword) about the evening was my audience interactions. I must confess, I get such glee from acting as Iago and surprising audience members by, say, throwing them a cloak to hold, sitting down beside them and watching a scene, hiding amongst them, roaming behind their backs. It fills me with a radiant energy that carries me for hours.

This isn’t all self-indulgent, of course; I find it helps a play immensely by creating the nervousness of an actively-listening audience, keeps them on their toes, knowing that more is possible here in this space than, say, sitting in a movie theatre. That at any time I might, heaven forbid, interact with them. GASP!

It also sets up the stage as being Iago’s territory. This is far more his play than anyone else’s, and he speaks directly to the audience a great deal, keeping them as confidants to his plans and ploys, as friends for his wicked jokes. It is only natural to extend that branch further.

So if you plan on attending on Monday or Tuesday, be wary – I will not be acting at you; we share this play together.

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I am… IAGO!

January 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Sir John Gilbert's 1849 painting: The Plays of...
Image via Wikipedia

I have been cast in a student production of Othello! As IAGO! Absolutely thrilling and terrifying and everything inbetween! To get to play one of the great villains of Shakespeare… a challenge to say the least.

So – how to approach the largest role of my life? Well, one step at a time. We perform on the last two days of February and the first two days of March (in the Student Union Building here at UVic), so I’m giving myself until about February 10th to try and learn my lines, so I have time to focus on just the character. This means I need to be learning, at the current script cut, around 28 lines (in the script copy we have) a day. Hefty. Wish me luck!

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