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Predicting Future Careers

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Predicting Future Careers

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

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

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

This is far from an exhaustive list.

PAST:

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

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

 

The Question Is What Is the Question?

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POSSIBLE FUTURE:

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

Opening (inverted) and closing question marks ...

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

 

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

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UVic – An Exit Interview

May 11, 2011 4 comments

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

—————————————

My former home.

1. Why did you choose UVic for your studies?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Glee! Photo: David Lowes

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

So yes, I became involved. 🙂


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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Cheers,

Andrew Wade

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Graduation.

April 2, 2011 1 comment

Wow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is going to take some time.

 

The Class, featuring Linda Hardy.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Twelfth Night Post-mortem – Gratitude vs. Ego

March 20, 2011 Leave a comment

 

Photo by David Lowes

Photo by David Lowes

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

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

Photo by David Lowes

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

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

Photo by David Lowes

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

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

Photo by David Lowes

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

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

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

Photo by David Lowes

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

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

Photo by David Lowes

Prior Twelfth Night posts:

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

Twelfth Night – The Art of Comedy

Twelfth Night – Review Recap

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Twelfth Night – Review Recap

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

CBC Radio (Dave Lennon):

Photo: David Lowes

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

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

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

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

Times Colonist

Photo: David Lowes

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

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

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

 

Photo: David Lowes

Monday Magazine:

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

Victoria News:

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

The University of Victoria Phoenix Theatre’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will most certainly is fantastic.”

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

“Fencing duels with golf clubs; backflips, somersaults, chase scenes across a revolving stage – there was enough energy bounding about the set to make even the laziest ex-hippy want to get up and smile on their brother. With court musician Andrew Gillot churning out musical punch lines – in the form of a well-timed riff here, or opening bars to “Day Tripper” there – barely a moment in the show wasn’t used to its fullest.

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

Culture Vulture:

Photo: David Lowes

“It was a great performance across the board…”

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

Well, shucks.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Prior Twelfth Night posts:

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

Twelfth Night – The Art of Comedy

Photo: David Lowes

Twelfth Night – The Art of Comedy

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Twelfth Night @ UVic

Still a beautiful poster.

What makes a comedy click?

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

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

coffee addict

Image by bess grant via Flickr

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

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

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

Olivia, character in Twelfth Night by William ...

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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

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

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

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

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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

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

Twelfth Night – Finding the Fun

Twelfth Night – Finding the Fun

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

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

Twelfth Night @ UVic

Beautiful poster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revenged!

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

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

Silly putty face

Silly Putty Face. Image by Nathan Rein.

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

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

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

Daffy Duck

Daffy. Image via Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

 

Cheers,

Andrew Wade

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