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Andrew Wade answers The Question (London+Ottawa Fringe)

This week I was asked by The Charlebois Post to answer a question. I thought I would post my response to it now, as I wrote it a few days ago, and it is already a little out of date, as Ottawa Fringe has just come to a close. Enjoy!

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The Question:
Since you’re half-way through touring The Hatter, how would you describe the overall experience of presenting it in London and Ottawa. Any differences in audience reaction or in any other way?

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It’s hard for me to separate my experiences of performing in each city from my feelings towards being on a Fringe tour overall. London Fringe, as my first stop, was all about getting my bearings. I haven’t travelled much, and I fell ill for three days right off the plane, including passing out, naked, on the floor of my billet’s bathroom. Not only that, but it was a new show! My first London performance was the first time I had ever performed The Hatter. I was memorizing lines up until showtime, with scenes jumping around and switching places for the first few performances.

Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2That being the first time I had presented the material, during my time in London I was also feeling out the character of The Hatter and his personal arc. Some of the aforementioned accidental scene switch-ups, I decided I liked, so I have since implemented them. I also found a slew of other lines which I didn’t really need to say, managed to reintroduce an old scene, and occasionally enjoyed my on-the-spot paraphrasings so much that I’ve edited them into the play. So everything onstage evolved rapidly in London.

Due to being given a small venue, they also allotted me more showtimes, which meant I was performing essentially almost every single day – only one day off – so most of my time was spent in pre-show prep/flyering and post-show recovery. While I did once manage to meet up with an old friend, but there was far less downtime to this whole ‘performing in Fringe Festivals’ thing than I had previously anticipated.

Other than my lovely billets, I also didn’t interact much with the locals. A few nice conversations, but mostly I hung around with a handful of other performers who I knew or was getting to know. Quite a lot of solitary time – which I didn’t really mind, surprisingly.

By now, with only a few days left in Ottawa, I think I am finally adopting the necessary mindset towards socializing while touring – something I’d been missing in London. Ordinarily at the back of my mind with every conversation I’m having is a radar scanning along, looking for hooks, ways to continue the relationship between myself and the other person. How can this association, this friendship, this relationship, be maintained, continued into the future? But that doesn’t work so well when you know you’re leaving town in a week’s time, and aren’t sure you’re ever coming back.

Hattersquare600x600So instead, Fringe is making me be more present than before. This conversation with a local which I am having right now, this conversation is its own encapsulated moment, never to be repeated. It can only be enjoyed now for what it is, because it isn’t the precursor to something else down the road. It just is what it is, straight up, hold the ice. And it’s the same for them! I am just a travelling performer, rushing through their town, and yet they still want to talk to me. I guess that makes me interesting.

Being in a BYOV, I am still performing almost every day here in Ottawa, moving from ten performances in London to nine here, to seven in each of Toronto and Saskatoon. One big personal goal of my fringe tour was to allow myself to enjoy travelling, and while I’ve gone to the house of commons and the supreme court, I’m finding I’m more engaged by chatting with people and asking them what they think of their city. Ottawa’s winters are too long but they couldn’t imagine a life without snow. The only jobs are government jobs, but the place throws great parties and is kept young by all the universities. I’ve never seen a city with so many police cars, but I suppose that makes sense.

As to the show itself, adapting it from a tiny room to a church auditorium had its share of surprising elements. I still find myself occasionally waiting for lighting cues which existed in London, but couldn’t be done in Ottawa, and due to the resonating echoes of the room, I actually need to perform more quietly in the auditorium than I ever did in London.

The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONAs for the audiences… to be honest, I am just over-the-moon thankful that I have audiences. My first two performances in London, the only people coming to the show were volunteers, fellow performers, and media. Not a single ticket sale. Great for workshopping, not so great for not-becoming-financially-destitute. Then on the third day, fifteen paying audience members. I can’t say I kept up the third day’s numbers for the rest of the run, but until then, I admit my worries were getting the best of me. Ottawa’s audiences, hopefully due to the generally positive press I’ve been receiving, have been slightly more numerous. With BYOV venue fees, I won’t break even on this stop, but this trip was always designed as my ‘tuition’ for learning how to tour with a show. Next year I’ll earn my profits. 🙂

I love meeting people on the street in Ottawa. London-folk are lovely, but the number of times Ottawans have asked if they can have a picture with me (in full Hatter garb) really brings a smile to my face. Yet for all that gregariousness, Ottawa audiences are also far less willing to sing along with The Unbirthday Song. Interesting divide, there. (NOTE FROM FUTURE ANDREW: My final audience in Ottawa was LOVING singing that song. Go figure.)

In both cities, I have made fans of my work, and with every other performers’ shows I see, I get little glints of inspiration, ways to continue to explore this play, tweak it, refine it. Watching Nancy Kenny‘s excellent Delores reminded me to pay attention to the main relationship within The Hatter, while Kurt Fitzpatrick’s Cathedral City and Bruce Horak’s Assassinating Thomson have a new show slowly building itself in the sunshine nook of my mind.

Which I suppose means I’ll need to do this crazy Fringe Festival thing again next year. What a daunting, exciting, intimidating, and thrilling notion.

Before then, however, I have seventeen performances in two and a bit Fringe Festivals (FUTURE ANDREW: Okay, two festivals. Plus possibly Nanaimo now?), one theatresports performance on Canada Day (FUTURE ANDREW: Which was AWESOME), at least fifty-five dreaded hours on greyhounds, and whatever else crops up (Nanaimo?) before this summer ends.

Hope to see you in Toronto or Saskatoon.

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter

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Andrew Wade’s The Hatter – More Reviews!

June 26, 2013 4 comments
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The Hatter @ Nuit Blanche in London, ONNow that my run in Ottawa is more than halfway done, a look at a couple more reviews for THE HATTER:

Allison Vanek at Apartment613 didn’t love everything about the show, but they did enjoy quite a bit of it:

“Inevitably, solo shows live or die on the abilities of their performers, and The Hatter is no exception. In that department, writer and performer Andrew Wade doesn’t disappoint.

Wade embodies the character of the Mad Hatter perfectly. He’s high-energy, even with a pretty low-energy audience, he never breaks character, and his impressions of the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland are fantastic. He’s also really wonderful at improvisation.

The themes are dark, powerful, and frighteningly mundane.

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And Josh Chenoweth at Production Ottawa loved the show, but didn’t care for the venue. Widely varying venues is always a danger of Fringe.

Despite suffering from an overly large venue, Wade’s heartfelt performance shines through.

Andrew Wade’s The Hatter takes the titular character… and humanizes him right before the audience’s eyes.

From the start, the appreciation Wade has for the character and the source material is very apparent… You honestly feel for him as his sanity begins reconstructing itself.

It’s a fun journey and Wade’s charm is undeniable.

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I look forward to seeing what Toronto and Saskatoon have to say!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,
The Hatter

Andrew Wade’s The Hatter – Reviews!

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And now, a quick look at some of the kind comments I’ve received about The Hatter.

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At the preview in London:

The Hatter drew an enthusiastic applause at the showcase.

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Yes, well, that’s all good, but what about the show itself? Well, according to Susannah Joyce at Beat Magazine, who gave the show three out of four stars…:

Much of the writing is… clever and funny, with a polished, lyrical style. An invitation to sing “A Very Merry UnBirthday”, with words thoughtfully printed out in the Program, was well received by everyone.

Story is important to the Hatter.

The battle with The Jabberwocky is enjoyable theatre, with very good use of audience participation and well designed costumes and props to enhance the visual effect.

The Hatter is an admirable effort and a worthwhile visit inside the mad workings of Wonderland.

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The London Free Press and Joe Belanger later followed up with a review of their own:

Wade’s performance as the jaded, lonely Hatter is a delight, convincing and poignant, not quite what one would expect, which is perfect for a Fringe festival.

The Hatter is a fun show that children might find entertaining, although their parents are sure to feel a little on edge from the tea party upon their arrival through to the opening scene and the show’s poignant conclusion.

You quickly learn to expect the unexpected, which can only be attributed to Wade’s fine acting skills. To maintain that tension for 50 minutes is no easy feat.

The Hatter is a show well worth catching.

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During the run, perhaps my favourite comment which I personally received was:

At the end there, it really got me in the feels.

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And finally (for now), I received a lovely email after my last performance in London:

Hi Andrew or Hatter or Ernest.
My boys (one of whom put ketchup in his tea by choice) and I really enjoyed your show at The London Fringe.
You have a great voice, a terrific imagination, good tea and hilarious songs.
We loved your impromptu song about trying to get elephants to fly.
Thank you for the story about the Albatross. It gave me an opportunity to tell my boys about The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Hope you enjoyed your time here in London and made some good dough.
And we hope you continue to act and sing and create.
Come back to London next year.

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Makes all the hard work worthwhile. I look forward to seeing how Ottawa receives the show! Thursday beckons! (Tickets available here!)

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Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Hatter National Tour – Ottawa Edition

June 17, 2013 1 comment
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Nine hours of Greyhounds later, I arrive in Ottawa, lugging my two giant suitcases out of the bus, wishing I hadn’t packed such a props heavy show. But it’s a good show.

Hatter Poster - Ottawa - for printer 2The bus was an hour late, but my billets only live what should be a half-hour walk away. Outside the bus depot, I stop and put on an extra shirt to cover up from the chill night air, an hour chillier than I was expecting. While there, a taxi driver offers a lift. At a cost, of course, but as a minimum wage worker who expects to lose money during his stay in this town (due to Bring-Your-Own-Venue fees), eh, I’ll save the money and walk with all my gear.

I forget in that moment how uncomfortable it is to have a backpack heavily laden with a huge brick of a laptop. A backpack whose straps have each broken earlier in my tour, and so now are held on by uncompromising, unextendable duct-tape, so that one strap is longer than the other, creating quite a lot of strain on my left shoulder.

I immediately regret my decision not to just take the taxi.

Three or four short but-oh-so-long blocks later, I am passing by a Subway sandwiches restaurant when a woman in the parking lot, a propos of anything, offers me a ride to wherever it is I’m going. Clearly she could see my Sisyphian struggle rolling my body’s weight across the pavement, and took in my Mad Hatter’s hat, perceiving that I wasn’t a threat to her or her daughter.

I swear, traveling is just improving my already high opinion of strangers, tenfold. Just so gosh darn nice.

We stop at my new billet’s place, where the couple I am staying with, Dean and Ruth, are waiting outside on the porch to greet me. Them and their giant black dog. I thank my ride and leave them with a business card and promise to offer them comps, but they want to pay for tickets to support me. Hopefully I hear from them.

At this point, all I know about my billets are that they have a giant dog, that they don’t own a vehicle, and… and that the man looks and dresses like the prototypical Amish gentleman. Like someone who would be right at home at a barn-raising, right down to the impressive and impressively sculpted facial hair. I have an immediate wonder as to whether or not their home will have electricity.

Half an hour of conversation later (in the well-lit, not-at-all-a-barn home), I discover that my billet is a storyteller who will be performing a version of Moby Dick. Which explains the facial hair somewhat. (Though his wifi internet password DOES relate to Amish communities, not to be any more specific about it.)

(He is clearly a complex man.)

But here I am, in the nation’s capital, eager and ready to take in a new environment. I mean, London was nice, but if you had told me I was off in a corner of Victoria or somewhere slightly inland from Abbotsford, I might have believed you.

Jervis Tetch/The Mad Hatter as depicted in Bat...

Jervis Tetch (Wikipedia)

Thus far, I’m finding that people are genuine and kind to me wherever I go, and that most of the stores are the same across the country, or have near to identical analogues, anyhow. Far more similarities than differences, in all but the wildlife. Which makes sense. With the ready ease at which people can travel across this country, similarities and homogenous communities are bound to emerge. But the porcupine crossing the road outside Ottawa won’t make his way into Richmond any time soon, nor the beautiful magpie stuck in the Calgary airport terminal, or the large turtle outside the rest-stop midway between Toronto and Ottawa, unwilling to decide whether or not he dare try to cross the highway.

I’ve got a startling two more months left in my own migration pattern this summer. The odds of me actually going Mad doing all this traveling by myself are still rather high, for those of you taking bets. And this is apparently an absolutely no gluten household, which also doesn’t have a blender, so there goes essentially how I make all of my meals. SO! Got to figure out how to survive on more than apples and bananas. Hrmm.

This should be quite an interesting two weeks! With all that’s ahead of me, I really am looking forward to sharing The Hatter with this city, the capital.

In London, I was visiting a small city solely for Fringing purposes. In Toronto, I will be exploring the city where most of my classmates moved to, post-graduation, seeking a world of greater performing opportunities (both stage and film, nowadays) and greater government funding and support. (My beloved BC has more artists per capita than any other province, but by FAR the least amount of funding per capita for the arts.)

But Ottawa is different.

I don’t have a lot of childhood memories, I don’t think. But I do remember with some details my father’s ill-fated run for office with the Reform Party, back in, oh, 1994 or so. It’s only natural for boys to admire their fathers, but I had good reason to – he really wanted to be a public servant, to represent and help his constituents on the national stage, and while he may not have achieved that dream, that noble goal still resonates with me. In the background of my life I find myself quietly, slowly, training. A few years on Senate at UVic. A leadership role with Peer Helping. Studying political blogs and current affairs. All awaiting for that day when I’m in my 40’s when I may very well aim to be public servant in some capacity, at some level, myself. So, to find myself in Ottawa! Time for a little exploration, another building block to mount atop another.

But that goal is some sixteen years away. Let’s get back to the present. Back to a tea party. Back to a bed lined with giant dog hairs, my kind, not-Amish hosts, two overflowing suitcases, and three fringe festivals to prep for.

Hello, Ottawa! I have so looked forward to meeting you.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade,

The Hatter.

(P.S.: You can buy tickets to my show here!: http://ottawafringe.com/tickets/the-hatter )

Posters for The Hatter!

Hello!

Just wanted to share with you my posters for my upcoming tour of The Hatter! I have a pack of posters for each city sitting and waiting for me to pick up from the printer downtown, and I can’t wait to see them in person!

Hatter Poster - London - for printer 2 Hatter Poster - Ottawa - for printer 2

Hatter Poster - Toronto - for printer 2

Hatter Poster - Saskatoon - for printer

Hope to see some of you at the show!

Cheers,
Andrew Wade 

Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.

May 16, 2013 3 comments

This post is featured in The Charlebois Post, as can be seen here.

 

Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.

The Hatter - 900x1350 300dpiThat’s all I wish someone had told me. Though I admit that if someone had, I would have sunnily ignored their wise words and continued on my merry way, because I, the eternal optimist, know I am a very capable individual. After all, I’ve pulled a couple of Fringe shows out of my hat before! How hard can this next one be?

And with that thought, I entirely overlooked the fact that putting on a local Fringe show and putting together a solo tour across several provinces are two VERY different beasts. The Hatter is driving me Mad.

(The name of my show is ‘The Hatter’. In case that wasn’t apparent.)

We are t-minus three weeks until I head to Ontario for the very first time (aside from once as a child being locked in a small room at the Toronto Airport for five hours). T-minus three weeks until I begin a tour of London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon over the course of two and a half months – the longest amount of time I will have ever been away from where I live. And for the life of me I have not been able to work on the show for more than an hour or two.

Oh, I’ve worked long and hard on the PRODUCTION, squeezing time between my minimum wage day-jobs and evening performances of other shows (eight shows a week of Beggar’s Opera, most recently) to fit in promotional photoshoots, to fill out of endless tech forms, to construct press releases I haven’t yet sent out, to conduct desperate searches for stage managers for each city (still looking for London, Ottawa, and Toronto, if you’re in one of those cities and interested!), to schedule performances, to make travel plans, to design posters and handbills, to figure out what to do with my worldly belongings while I’m away, to get costume pieces fitted and created, to figure out props…

But do I have a script? Nope. Do I have lines to learn? Not yet! No time. Just. No. Time.

I only have myself to blame, really. Sure, I could have turned down a workshift here or there, but my rent this month won’t get paid on future possible-maybe-hopefully-ticket-sales.

And there are the timeframe issues. The play doesn’t need to be performed until June 5th. But the production aspects need to get done long before then. I need to figure out how I’m getting out there. I need to print promotional materials, and I need to have stage managers in each city. Everything else seems to need to happen first.

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Care for a cup?

I am still ever the optimist. This show is, after all, based on a show called The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party which I essentially improvised at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe. (The one review I received seemed to like it: http://tiny.cc/194sww .) To be honest, that show mostly came together in the four days between Victoria Fringe and Vancouver Fringe, as I ran out of time there as well, when Victoria Fringe proved all consuming what with my directing one show (BFA: The Musical!), stage managing another (Sonnets For An Old Century), and writing/performing a third (William vs The World).

I was also MOVING from Victoria to Vancouver in those four days. Half an hour before the first performance, a friend and I finally finished making the final set piece. It was that close. But this time was supposed to be different.

This time, I was supposed to swoop across the country with a well-built, well-tested, emotionally and intellectually deep show about The Hatter remembering who he once was, with all the grief and desperation which comes with a man trying to forget his past and be gleefully, cheerfully Mad again.

It can still be that. But right now it is a play about a man desperately trying to find stage managers and wade through technical forms. About a man who somewhere along the line has gotten far too distracted away from the real goal – to create a strong, highly entertaining piece of theatre that has the potential to move people and change lives.

I still have plenty of time. Three weeks to find time to stop being such a producer and to remember how to be an award-winning playwright and actor again. Time to grab some post-its, a sharpie, a pen and a laptop, and remember how to have fun again. How to create again. How to play again.

I miss playtime.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Beggar’s Opera – Quick Update

May 3, 2013 1 comment

Hello all!

I have been trying to get a proper post about Beggar’s Opera out for some time now, but it just hasn’t happened between working every day and performing eight times a week! I would love to inspire you with stories about the wonderful group of actors I have had the pleasure to share the stage with, about how Linden has been a great mentor for me, about the joy of having your own theme song, about SPACETEAM!, about how I see my future self a few years down the line in Gord and Nick as they discuss touring horror stories while sitting backstage with their very pregnant wives, about the kindness that infects the backstage area, about the thrill of going out and performing a show that wants nothing other than to be the most entertaining show on Earth… but there just isn’t time! No time at all! Even now, I steal minutes away from my workplace to ramble as I am!

Only three days remain – we close with a matinee on May 5th! Performance Works! Loving this show so much. I’ll miss these fine folks.

Cheers!

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Advice to Actors: Just Give ‘er. Go all in.

October 22, 2012 1 comment

Advice to Actors: Just Give ‘er. Go all in.

Tomorrow is tech day for Dracula: The Musical1, with an opening performance on Wednesday at Chapel Arts. It is a ridiculous show, a delightful cartoon farce. While I assure you it also has a through-line that makes sense, here is a clip our marvelous director showed us early on, to get us in the mood:

For me, the greatest aspect of working on this show (aside from the marvelous, wonderful people involved), has been being told directly to go as large as I want, to make the big choices, to let myself get carried away. So when I, as Van Helsing, am startled by the sudden emerging of Count Dracula, I can do the somersault backwards and try to swim along the ground to get away. I can be a magniloquent proclaimer. I can prove the superiority of garlic by biting directly into a clove of the stuff.

(Also explains my lack of kissing scenes)

We, as an ensemble, together with Andy Toth’s brilliantly sophisticated and childlike sense of humour, have built an entire show full of these large and comic moments.

But when discussing the show with others, I am unwilling to call the show ‘over-the-top’. Because it isn’t. Every one of our moments works as an extension of these characters acting in this situation in the kind of world they live in. Believe me, throughout the rehearsal process, we tried many other gags that were over-the-top, that were ‘too much’. How so? Because those gags weren’t honest; they weren’t grounded in the insane-asylum almost-panto-esque world of Dracula: The Musical.

Dental care is important.

But to have that freedom to just give ‘er, to go all in, to take my character and go DO what I felt like doing in that moment in that scene… not only has that been my favourite aspect of working on this show, but I think that every time I have crafted a great performance, this has been the case. The world of a silly farce and the characters within may vary greatly from Shakespearean heroes or theatresports concoctions. A procedural detective on a television drama won’t flop about the floor like a fish, for example. But I think I am at the point where I can trust in myself enough to let go of the ‘is this too large for screen’ or ‘am I hamming this up enough’ internal directorial comments and just breathe in the scene of that world.

I can trust my instincts and do what I want to do. Try what I want to try. And if it doesn’t work, the director will tell me. But so many of our wonderful moments in this play emerged from someone just doing what felt appropriate in that moment, at that second, as their character. They were rooted in their character and engaging with a ridiculous scene in an appropriately ridiculous manner. And yes, hilarity ensued.

We did an exercise in my final year at UVic where we recorded ourselves reading sides for various television parts. The first time around, cognizant that stage acting won’t directly translate onto a close-up for a camera, I pulled everything in, emotions, emphasis, all of it. The footage came back flat and unremarkable.

Last month, VADA graciously held a free film workshop where we all were given some sides, and had the opportunity to look it over for a few minutes, then get up in front of a camera, and deliver them. And while initially I thought about camera placement and whether or not I should get myself in the mindset of performing for an audience of one (the camera), as I have done many times before, for whatever reason, I went ‘screw it, I’m just going to have fun and be this person as best I can’. And they all loved it. Kept using the word ‘quirky’ over and over again.

There is great power in the idea of just give ‘er. Of going all in. Of being as honest and present as you can, and trusting in your own awareness of the world your character lives in. It’ll only ever be over the top if you’re not engaged with what is going on around you.

I genuinely believe that we have a hilarious, beautiful show here, and I hope you can come out to see it. Feel free to stick around afterwards and say hello. 🙂

Dracula: The Musical? runs from October 24th to November 3rd, at Chapel Arts on Dunlevy, every night at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here: http://awkward.brownpapertickets.com/ .

1(note: the show is actually titled Dracula: The Musical?, but putting the question mark in every time just wreaks havoc with readability. Also, apparently I can do footnotes on my blog. Be wary. Very wary. For I am a Terry Pratchett fan.)

Life as Seasons of Television

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

The old season is ending. Long live the new season.

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English: Icon of television that is off

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often consider my life in the metaphor of a television series. (I like structure.)

Lately I’ve been looking at each year as a season. And since I’m not yet too far removed from 20 years of education, each year begins in September. Now, with any good episodic television show, there are individual stories and arcs that last over a few episodes, two-parters and the like, but there are also season arcs, overarching stories and themes that have their feet in every minor story that year. An arc could be a career path, a relationship status, a focus, a series of coincidences, health, friendships, projects… anything, really. What makes a season arc what it is is that pervasive nature with which they are progressed (or obviously stagnate) throughout the whole season. It’s these arcs I’d like to pontificate over.

THIS SEASON’S ARCS

This past year (September 2011 to September 2012), significant arcs I can identify that have made their way into almost every day of my life are (A) my career goal to connect with the Vancouver theatre scene and find paying work doing theatre, (B) reconnecting with my family (as last September included a move close to home), and (C) Being single without letting myself be single. (Like I said, stagnation can be an arc as well.)

English: TV icon

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for (A), as with good TV, it started with a BANG (four days to write and learn and build a Fringe show for Vancouver Fringe?), then fell into a rhythm of better paced growth experiences throughout (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Great American Trailerpark Musical, The Boys In The Band, IGNITE!  and The You Show with The Romantics, Shpadoinkle Day, and the National Voice Intensive), and showed a strong arc build, with my recent paid work at the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. This arc emerged from last year’s season finale (Stage manage, direct, and write/act in three different shows for Victoria Fringe?), and this year’s finale features an echo of last season with a return to Henry V with KeepItSimple, and an unexpected call from Bard on the Beach, asking if I could audition for them – a call I did not receive last year. The finale of this month also helpfully points toward plotpoints for next year, with auditions for paid work and opening hints of Dracula: The Musical.

For (B), seeing my parents and siblings every few days has been a blessing, giving me a sense of roots and the resolve to stay on the mainland and follow my path, rather than find somewhere to hide. An anchor.

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(Photo credit: Walt Jabsco)

And with (C), well… all I’ll say is I went on a total of three dates all year, and that while this year’s season finale won’t be what I’d hoped for, it might be what I need. As with many real television shows, this season will end with a meeting at a party. (Part of the reason I think in arcs is an act of hope and will that there will indeed be a great shift ahead.)

NEXT YEAR’S ARCS?

While I’m no clairevoyant, here are my predictions for possible arcs:

(A) Film and TV. I want to make a big career push in film and TV. I expect a slow build-up with student films, extra-work and the like, but I’ll happily accept a break if it comes. 🙂

(B) The Move Into The City, Proper. Not only does my family look like they may finally move out of Richmond after many years of pondering doing so, but the building I am currently living in is due to be demolished at some undetermined point – most likely in a year’s time. Just in time for the big finale. 😛

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(Photo credit: davydubbit)

(C) Breaking The Social Isolation. Tied to the former arc, perhaps living with other people again, but more importantly, cultivating strong friendships and accepting new beginnings on the relationship front. More evenings spent with people, and not just for the purpose of rehearsing.

(D) Income Boost. Be it a successful passive income project, a lucky opportunity to act in a commercial, or something else, I expect growth from last season’s 10k income figure.

Other possible arcs include: Writing regularly / getting published (though I’m not sure I have the discipline for this in me, quite yet – through perhaps writing/running a D20 game could be a step), bouts of depression, a brilliant romance (apparently there’s still a hopeful romantic in me), connecting to political spheres, and connecting to nature (a highly rare experience throughout all of my life).

NOW.

Now I head off to Victoria for the season finale – a step into my old world to see what experiences, which people, I’ll get to take from it into next season’s arcs, and what will get left behind.

I don’t know what will happen, but I plan on following the metaphor through. I want a big finale, with this season’s arcs resolved or transformed into something new. Next year’s arcs set-up. Surprises. A cliff-hanger. When I return to the mainland, I want my life to have been inexorably changed.

So if you want to help write the next season of me, or become a regular, now’s the best time to make a guest-starring appearance.

I need something big to happen so I can begin next year feeling renewed.


(yes, I ended this on a pun.)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

My Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival Experience

August 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I was asked to answer a few questions on my experience with the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, and thought I’d share my responses here.

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

Rockin' out to Tiger Woods1. What do you think of the opportunity to perform here?
This has been an amazing opportunity and a fantastic experience – it really does feel like a ‘next step’ opportunity for me, to have a chance to step out from the community theatre world / Fringe theatre world and be paid to hone my craft not only as an actor, but as an assistant stage manager as well. I have invested a lot of time and money into this career (including a degree at UVic, and recently, some time with The National Voice Intensive), and to be chosen for this festival was honestly a relief – to know that I had the ability to be paid to do what I love.
Another reason this has felt like a ‘next step’ opportunity is the amount of support we actors have received, through billeting, introductions to the city, and other means. Working here has given me the confidence to, say, try to take another show on the road (such as perhaps aiming for a tour of Fringe Festivals).
I like the idea of outdoor venues, and I think we’ve got a great set up here. That said we did cancel two shows due to rain, and as an almost-Vancouverite, I’d be tempted to let the show go on, even when conditions are even a bit dicey. We had a great show that one performance where we went ‘unplugged’ because the audio equipment was too wet! Or shows can take a ten minute hiatus until weather improves. Or we can offer umbrellas or something. Take a risk. Make it an experience. Half of the joy of performing outside is that… well… it’s outside! Weather exists! We can work with that and create something unique.
Building the Theatre
2. What sort of impact does this opportunity/experience had on you? Your career? Finances?
I am hesitant to keep coming back to the financial angle, but I am approaching performing as a professional career, and part of that equation requires earning at least a decent chunk of one’s income within that profession. Prior to the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I had broken even on a couple of Fringe shows, made a small amount of money in a playwriting competition, and earned 300$ performing at the UFV Director’s Festival, but other than these small successes, I had not yet found that elusive ‘paid theatre contract’. So this opportunity was like blessed manna from the heavens. And while the company may consider the rates to be humble, any paycheque I can earn doing theatre means I have more time in the future to devote to creating and pursuing more theatre, rather than needing to find my rent through a Joe job.
That ‘first opportunity’ is so important for an artist’s confidence. After I won a playwriting competition, I knew I had the ability in that field to create something worthwhile. But acting? Stage management? While I’ve earned a degree in the former and taken on a handful of jobs in the latter, I couldn’t until now point to them and say ‘yes, I have the chops to earn a living here.’
And to be honest? Perhaps the greatest benefit of the whole situation is now I have an amazing experience that I can point to whenever my mother says, ’I know this is something you enjoy, but how are you going to support yourself?’
 
3. How do feel about the whole experience?
I am over-the-moon grateful for this experience. I’ve now been in Kelowna for over a month – the longest I’ve ever traveled away from my homebases of Richmond and Victoria – and it has been a grand adventure, with two more weeks to go! A terrific growth experience to be sure, and one that I will always cherish.
 

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Cast: Simon Mizera, Katey Hoffman, Alen Dominguez, Andrew Wade, and Jaclyn Nestman

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

July 23, 2012 2 comments

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

Protean Personality

Protean Personality (Photo: FeatheredTar)

One of the core, central beliefs by which I live is this: that all human beings are malleable. That I, and all of us, are capable of change, of growth, and of discovery, of making fundamental shifts in our worldview and in how we relate to others and ourselves. I’m a junkie for self-help books, websites, and audioguides ranging from C. S. Lewis’s Christian conundrums to Marc and Angel’s motivational posts to Morty Lefkoe’s limiting beliefs to Steve Pavlina‘s open discussions on everything from worklife to domination-submission. To anyone with an eye for how a person can improve.

In my own, personal story (elaborated on more substantially here), the single most important moment in my life was a time when I was in church, ten years old, with tear-filled eyes, my head down at my knees. At that time, I said to God, ‘I don’t like who I am. Help me become someone else, someone better.’ After that day, I looked to the people around me and observed what I admired about them, then sought to instill those values within myself. Courage. Humour. Honesty. Openness. Community-mindedness. Counsel. Extroverted exuberance.

When I tell this story to people – my origin story, essentially – the most common reaction I receive is this:

Well, you shouldn’t ever have to change who you are.’

Bullshit.

(If you know me in person, you know it’s exceedingly unusual for me to use such strong language. If you don’t know me and don’t consider this word as ‘strong language’, please replace it with a suitably surprisingly bold word of your choosing.)

Don’t change? Bullshit. I say, change who you are. Constantly. Discover the very core qualities that make you, you, and on a deep, gut level, grok them, understand them, and then decide whether or not you want them as a foundation for who you are. Reevaluate. Over and over again. Everything from how often you smile and laugh, to how you spend your time waiting in grocery line-ups, to what you believe is fundamentally true about human beings, to how you interact with strangers, to what makes you afraid, to how honest you are, to whether or not you’re as good a friend, lover or acquaintance as you could be… constantly identify ways to grow, prune, build, and level. Then do it. Change.

Be the Change

It’s not surprising I entered the world of theatre. Here, I can wear the skins of people with different intentions, worldviews, tempos, and rhythms to my own. Sometimes while exploring a character I’ll find an aspect of them that satiates me on a deep, gut-level – a whole-body grokking – and decide to try to hold onto that aspect for myself. Iago (see here, here, here, and here) helped me explore the intensely gratifying thrill of untethered ambition. As Donald (The Boys In The Band), I discovered the honest love behind unconditional loyalty. As William (William vs The World), I spelunked into the dark world of how a person can use self-delusion to shield oneself from loneliness, and into the desperation that kicks in when those illusions disappear. Malvolio (see here, here, here, and here) taught me how to use heartbreak as a powerful driving force, and performing improv taught me to trust not only my own gut instincts, but also those of whomever with whom I am sharing a moment. Over and over again theatre has helped me continue to shape and mold the very nature of who I am, cutting into the marble, adding slops of wet clay, drilling and firing and smelting and blooming.

One of my other core beliefs is this: I respect anyone who is trying to better themselves, be they an addict, my mother or even a former serial killer. We can all be better than who we are; we are all works in progress, always. That doesn’t mean we are not good, honest, eager, excellent people in the here and now. What it means is that we’re human. Malleable. Full of hope and opportunity.

Whether you want to or not, we all change. It happens. No one remains the exact same person throughout the course of their life, or heck, throughout the course of a year, or a month. What we can do, however, by admitting our protean possibilities, is direct that change for the better, be that through eliminating beliefs that are hindering, through shifting your perspective of yourself and of the world, through adopting new practices and personality goals such as honesty and openness, or through pursuing an innumerable other opportunities to grow, weed, cut, feed, nurture, and breathe.

There are many reasons someone might tell you to never change who you are. Perhaps they’re worried you don’t feel self-worth in who you currently are. Perhaps they worry you’ll trip up somewhere along your personal journey and get lost. Perhaps they’re afraid you’ll become someone other than their expectations of you. Perhaps they worry you’ll leave them behind. Perhaps it’s just their way of saying ‘I love you for who you are now.’ But I would add to each of these that anyone who tells you to never change who you are, refuses to see how amazing-brilliant-marvelous your future self will be.

Keep consciously changing,
Andrew Wade

A newspaper article all about me.

So,

I have SO much respect for The Cultch’s publicity people. They do a great job at showcasing the works that go on in that space, they have a good relationship with the media, and… well… they got me an article all about myself in The Richmond Review. Read it here: http://www.richmondreview.com/entertainment/150096215.html .

The review itself was done on the phone during my lunch hour at Science World on Wednesday, and it went up online on Thursday (printed in the Friday newspaper over two pages, with TWO photos of me). Good fun. I especially enjoyed this back-and-forth (paraphrased somewhat according to my memory):

Him: “Just out of curiosity, are you somehow related to Adrian Wade?”
Me: “Yes, he’s my dad. And yes, he writes a lot of letters to the paper.”
Him: “And do you have a brother named Sam?”
Me: “Yes, the guy who biked across the country for cancer research.”

So, we have a pretty famous family in free-local-newspaper-profiler circles.

I chose not to let him know that I grew up delivering his competitor’s newspapers for three or four years. 🙂

Some event links:
Victoria: https://www.facebook.com/events/215861801863022/
Vancouver: https://www.facebook.com/events/311795948896899/

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

 

Review for The Boys In The Band!

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a quick post to connect you with a review by David C. Jones of Out TV: http://www.outtv.ca/blog/2012/04/27/gay-stereotypes-too-camp-and-camping/

Riaan Smit as the hustler, Andrew Wade as Michael’s friend and Michael Barry Anderson as the unexpected straight guest did fine work in their underwritten roles.

I was really appreciative that I finally got to see this ‘notorious’ play and found the story funny and darkly moving.

Given that I felt it was my weakest performance of the run, I’m delighted to receive such high praise. I’m not sure I agree that my role is underwritten, however. True, I don’t get a big emotional moment for myself like most of the other characters, but I’m onstage for pretty much the entire show, from an extended opening scene to the powerful finale.

Tickets! : http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/217822

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Boys In The Band

April 28, 2012 2 comments

It seems to always be when I have the most to say, that I have the least amount of time to say it.

Right now, my life is on a crazy tear, as I am partway through an incredible run of 17 performances of The Boys In The Band with Ghost Light Projects, and it has been an absolute privilege to work with such a diverse, talented group to put on a stunningly scripted, two-act power-of-a-piece on two weeks of rehearsals and a lot of gumption. Our cast ranges from a Film and TV veteran up on stage for the first time to a new VFS grad, from a working actor who earns a good living off his profession to the ’emerging artist’ (me). Decades between the oldest and youngest cast members. Now, don’t get me wrong – I enjoy working with teenagers (such as on the Panto) and actors in their early twenties, but I am also SO very grateful for the opportunity to work with men (and woman) who have a lot more experience in theatre and in life than I do. One of our fine actors works at the Make A Wish Foundation, and this show has been a wish come true indeed.

When I first graduated, I was worried I would leave school and promptly not do any theatre, fall into a dayjob and not get back out. So to counter this fear I took on every project that came along (and still do – let’s be honest). And so, since I graduated, I haven’t had more than three or four days away from a rehearsal or performance hall. Include school projects beforehand, and that run stretches probably longer than a year. But, being who I am (a new actor who can sing), most of my theatre work in the real world thus far has been in musicals, so to have the opportunity to sink myself into such a marvelous, serious, funny script as The Boys In The Band has been a great leveler. It has pointed out all the habits I own that I’ve let loose in musical-land, which don’t work so well in the realm of realism. My enunciation and lapses into over-articulation and sounding slightly British. My breathing habits. Finding the right level of energy with which to enter a scene and hit cues. Keeping up the pace.

And with last night’s performance, I feel we really hit our stride. Please, check us out – it is a fantastic show, and a landmark piece of queer theatre. (Sidenote: I take far too much pleasure in being a straight man playing a gay character, such an opposite to the usual circumstance.)

Tickets can be bought at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/217822 , and when the questionnaire asks who sent you, tell’em you bought tickets to see me. So I can get a bit of a commission on them to subsidize my bus tickets. Thanks; I appreciate it. And you’ll appreciate our fine show.

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