Wade is so convincing as the timid loser that he easily wins the audience’s sympathy, especially when he recalls what it meant in junior high school to finally have an actual friend to talk to instead of an imaginary one, or the first time he worked up the courage to kiss a girl.
The truly remarkable thing about The Most Honest Man in the World is the character that Wade creates is so real, that it’s easy to forget he is as skilled an actor as he is a writer. The Most Honest Man in the World is fringing at its finest.
I broke her heart as a dandelion. She saw me as a flower when I wondered if I were a weed. We grew stubborn roots that kept us together through two breakups. Though my petals leaned away, something deeper kept its grip, brought me back to the soil of us, to the school field and the ocean air,
And then it didn’t.
I was a dandelion, and I could feel the change in the seasons, my petals turning to seeds, with the lightness and lift that comes from them, and I couldn’t remain a bright flower for her; I couldn’t be her wine. It was in my nature; I longed for a steady wind to cast me about in five hundred directions, to grow again, apart from that place and from her.
So I left. A weed and a flower, a flower and a weed, I launched into the breeze, billowing about through winters and springs, summers and falls, at first without aim, at the whims of the wind, hither and thither, learning my shape and my size, my weedness and my florality, the pest and the prize, until now, at last, I gaze out of the gust and hope maybe for a garden with soil and a soul in which to root.
I just finished reading High Fidelity, the book (obviously) – read the last close-to-two-hundred pages in a single go. That’s one thing I’ve really enjoyed about taking this contract – I’ve become a reading person again, and that’s one thing I’ve really missed from childhood – being the kind of person who can just sit and read a book, submerged between its pages, for hours on end, because I need to find out how it goes, because I’ve emotionally and intellectually connected to it.
I’m also a bit of an empathic person in that I tend to adopt the voice of what I’m reading or watching for a little while. Which is why I’m writing this out now, and probably why I don’t watch scary slasher flicks. (Also, I just typed the word ‘flick’, which is British, so apparently High Fidelity has turned me slightly British.)
So it’s sort of a book about a jerk. I don’t entirely relate to that (and please don’t argue the opposite). I’ve been real stupid in life, but rarely with a vindictive sense of malice to it. Not since grade school, anyway, when I would plot to fill peoples’ desks with dirt because I thought they were mean to me. Nah, most of the time, if I’m thinking someone deserves negative stuff in their life, that person is me. But I’ve an affirmational poster on my wall (yes, I’m that guy) that says ‘I am a GoodMan‘ (sharpie underlined), and I believe it, most of the time. My friend Jacqui added a ‘And we ❤ you!’ to it that I quite appreciate.
What the book is more about, though, is the triumvirate of the excitement of new relationships, dealing with break-ups, and figuring out what to do in the middle of a relationship. It’s about how much mental space and energy and OHMYGOD these things take up inside a person’s soul. It ends with pretty much an ode to marriage and commitment, because, heck, all of the above just take so much EFFORT, going through those first few steps of a relationship over and over and over again, and long term relationships take effort too, but it’s a different kind of effort; it isn’t the same, stuck kind of effort repeating itself over and over again.
My week has been emotionally a bit rough, probably in part due to this book. It’s all about fixating on past relationships, and, well, it’s not hard to see why that is an issue if you’ve read the second paragraph up there about empathy. And I don’t know if people with regular nine-to-five, five-days-a-week office dayjobs feel like every day is the same, but performing a show is quite LITERALLY SAYING THE EXACT SAME WORDS AND REPEATING THE EXACT SAME ACTIONS EVERY DAY.
(I actually love it, and every audience has a slightly different vibe, and let’s be honest, I usually slightly fumble a couple of dance moves or reverse a line or sing a verse with a slightly different intent, so it’s never exactly the same, but the metaphor is too precise to ignore, so stick with me.)
ANYWAY, as I was saying, I needed to get to the end of the book, so I read it with an intensity – I was trying to divine some sort of wisdom from these pages to help me out, or at least to feel a sense of closure – moreso than I feel from my own life right now. I don’t want to be Rob (the main character) from the beginning of the book. (sidenote: No one should want to be the person at the beginning of the book – they’re the person who hasn’t yet learned what they need to learn to be a better person.) He’s a mid-thirties man who still acts like a teenager because his life got stuck somewhere along the way, and he blames everyone else for it happening. And I, by contrast, am an early-thirties man who is excited to read a book from cover to cover because the very act of doing so makes him feel like a pre-teen, who isn’t sure if this theatre tour he’s on is a life derailment, a career advancement, or a period of being stuck in relational limbo. Probably all three. And I mostly blame myself for how my life is. But I could be more of Rob at the end of the book. Sure, it’s a bit of a cop-out that someone else fixes most of his exterior life, but inside himself, he makes some realizations and he feels the heartdeep of what makes commitment and long-term relationships so meaningful.
Let’s be honest. I’m a 32-year-old man who had only been in a relationship with someone for longer than nine months before my last one, once, and even with the age difference, that really probably was my first time with that heartdeep, that continuity of companionship and all that comes with it, and now you’re feeling awkward reading this because these are the kinds of thing that twenty-year-old men accidentally blubber about when they’ve had too much to drink, or the kinds of things said by pathetic old men still pining over old flames, or maybe those are both images I’m projecting over myself, but I’m going to say the obvious anyway, which is that I want that heartdeep again.
I’m also probably not emotionally prepared to have it again – not that that stops some people – and anyway, I’m on tour now, hopping from Calgary to the Cayman Islands (to visit a happy, committed couple with a kid) to Edmonton and then maybe to Winnipeg and I have NEVER been good at long term planning, always been the person to embrace the ephemerality of life and that’s what I’m living in for the next three to six months whether I want to or not, and I’m going to do my darndest to enjoy it, goshdarnit, to find ways to make peoples’ lives exciting due to my being temporarily, ephemerally in them, as I continue to crawl back percentage points of my heart (yes I think of it in percentages – it’s not a null sum game – the heart can grow! – but percentages all the same), but when I finish leading this webisode, short-story, elseworlds edition comic book time in my life, and have more of my heartdeep to offer, I’d like to find a deep, long novel with someone to live in.
Anyway, this has been my book report on High Fidelity. Cheers.
Toronto audience numbers
(for The Most Honest Man In The World):
# of performances: 7
Total # of audience members: 156 (this number is actually lower — skewed by artist comps not used by people for 1st and 2nd performances)
Average # of audience members per performance: 22 (without 1st comps: 17)
# of comps given away to 1st show to try and build word of mouth: 30
# of comps given away to 2nd show to try and build word of mouth: 10
# of comps to media: 3
# of artist comps (it is SUPER awkward to get other artists comps in Toronto): 5
# of comps to outreach (including to a group of new immigrants): 21
# of comps to VIPS (like artistic directors): 9
# of comps to volunteers: 11
Total # of paying audience members: 11 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 4 + 15 + 15 = 66
Average @ of paying audience members per performance: 9
Saskatoon audience numbers
(for William vs The World):
# of performances: 7
Total # of audience members: 120
Average # of audience members per performance: 17
# of comps to fringe staff: 0
# of comps to fellow performers: 37
# of comps to media: 1
# of volunteer comps: 20
Total # of paying audience members: 6+11+8+11+8+6+11 = 61
Average # of paying audience members per performance: 9
(last year’s average of paying ticket holders for Honest Man in Saskatoon was 21.)
Nanaimo audience numbers
(for The Most Honest Man In The World):
# of performances: 6
Total # of audience members: 82
Average # of audience members per performance: 14
# of comps to VIPs: 13
# of comps to ‘Buck’ (volunteer bucks?): 6
# of comps to artists via password: 9
Total # of paying audience members: 0 + 14 + 11 + 12 + 6 + 9 = 54 (yes, I had zero paying ticket holders to my first performance. Seven comps, though.) Average # of paying audience members per performance: 9
Victoria audience numbers
(for The Most Honest Man In The World):
# of performances: 6
Total # of audience members: 26 + 19 + 34 + 25 + 18 + 47 = 169
Average # of audience members per performance: 28
# of comps: 11 + 4 + 6 + 8 + 6 + 10 = 45
Total # of paying audience members: 124
Average # of paying audience members per performance: 21
Vancouver audience numbers
(for The Most Honest Man In The World): (Note: the venue could only hold between 30-39 people. The capacity expanded mid-run.)
# of performances: 8 (due to being a BYOV)
Total # of audience members: 238
Average # of audience members: 30
Smallest house: 9
Second smallest house: 25. No one comes out to a 1pm Saturday show apparently.)
# of advance comps: 15
# of artist’s choice comps (videographer): 1
# of comps plus membership purchase: 10 (no income to me on these.) # of comps to media: 2
# of comps to Rush Passes: 38
# of comps to Super Passes: 5
# of comps to Kick Ass Passes: 6
# of comps to Golden Ass Passes: 3
# of Frequent Fringer 10 or 30 packs: 11
# of Frequent Fringer 4 packs: 11
# of regular tickets sold (with or without memberships): 13 + 12 + 2 + 12 + 22 + 19 + 31 + 25 = 136
Average # of paying audience members per performance: 17
(Vancouver has a LOT of ticket categories!)
Failed Fringe Application Fees: Winnipeg: -20.00$
Total: -71.25$ Toronto Fringe Expenses: Application fee: -27.50$
Festival fee: -750.00$ Flight to Toronto: -334.00$ Poster printing (25) from Clubcard: -13.27$
Handbills (1000) from ePrintFast: -50.55$
Weekly transit pass: -40.75$
Gift of pillow for billet: -10.00$
Booze = -10.00$
1/2 of cost of flight to Saskatoon: -121.65$
1/2 of Baggage fee of flight to Saskatoon: ~-16.58$ Total: -1374.30$
Saskatoon Fringe Expenses: Festival Fee: -730.00$ 1/2 of cost of flight to Saskatoon: -121.65$
1/2 of Baggage fee of flight to Saskatoon: ~-16.58$ Photoshoot cactus prop: -5.59$
Chuck the Cactus in Saskatoon: -11.00$ Poster printing (25) from Clubcard: -13.27$
Handbills (1000) from ePrintFast: -53.94$
Bottle of Fireball Whiskey for my spoof on Spoof Night: -15.95$
Booze = -6.00$
Flight home from Saskatoon: -185.98$
Baggage fee from Saskatoon: -26.25$
Nanaimo Fringe Expenses:
Application Fee: -25.00$ Festival Fee: -175.00$
Poster printing (25) from Clubcard: -13.27$
Handbills (500) from ePrintFast: -39.98$
Booze: -9.26$ + -5.70$ + -6.30$ + -20.00$ = -41.26$
Ferry to Nanaimo (with bike): -18.85$
Ferry from Nanaimo (with bike): -16.85$
Victoria Fringe Expenses:
Festival application fee: -28.00$ Festival fee: -572.00$ Poster printing (25) from Clubcard: -13.27$ Rechargeable batteries for blood pressure monitor: ~-19.00$
Handbills (1000) from ePrintFast: -44.07$
Booze from the store: -25.37$
Other booze: -7.40$ + -10.00$ = -17.40$
Ferry to Victoria: -16.70$
Ferry from Victoria: -16.70$
Ferry from Nanaimo (had to head down to Victoria via the mainland mid-Nanaimo-festival for a promo): -16.70$
Bus tickets to/from the Showdown Preview: -6.00$
Bus from ferry: -2.50$
Bus to ferry: -2.50$
Ferry back to Nanaimo: -16.85$
Vancouver Fringe Expenses:
Application fee: -50.00$ BYOV Festival fee to the Fringe: -450.00$
BYOV Festival fee to Arts Umbrella: -400.00$ Poster printing (25) from Clubcard: -13.27$
Handbills (1000) from ePrintFast: 44.07$
Other Expenses: Travel insurance (admittedly including a two week visit to the States) = -91.98$
Professional photoshoot with Dominic Chan for both shows: -140.00$
Foamcore Posterboards (for all Honest Man shows): -22.29$
Index Cards (for all Honest Man shows): -7.04$ Total: -261.31$
Expenses not considered: –Rent paid back home
– Groceries while on tour and between festivals, at home
– Lost income from not working my dayjobs
Toronto Fringe: Advance Ticket Price: 12$ with 2$ Admin fee = 10$ to artist Full Ticket Price: 10$ (which they thankfully didn’t advertise so much this year as in years past as being amazing because it has never gone up in 20 years, to which all artists respond with ‘inflation is a real thing, you guys’…) 5-Play Ticket Price: 8$ Advance Pass Ticket Price: 7.5$
10-Play Ticket Price: 7.5$
Advance Pass (’10SP85′ and ’10SPOF’ on paysheet) ticket sales: 9 = 67.50$
10-Play ticket sales: 1 = 7.50$
5-Play ticket sales: 1 = 8.00$
At Door and FP (??) ticket sales: 7 + 4 + 4 + 8 + 4 + 14 + 14 = 55 = 550.00$
Average amount per bought ticket, paid to the artist: 9.60$ Total: 633.00$
Saskatoon Fringe: (all numbers confused by the festival removing GST from payout) Full Ticket Price: 14$
5 Pack Ticket Price: 13$
10 Pack Ticket Price: 12$ Admin fee per ticket: -2$
Artist take-home of ticket price: 10$-12$
Advance ticket sales (14$ – 2$ = 12$ per ticket): 10 tickets = 120.00$
5 Pack ticket sales (13$ – 2$ = 11$ per ticket): 2 tickets = 22.00$
10 Pack ticket sales (12$ – 2$ = 10$ per ticket): 6 tickets = 60.00$
Ticket sales at door (14$ – 2$ = 12$ per ticket): 43 tickets = 516.00$
GST awkwardly deducted (the only festival to do so): -39.99$
Audience donation!: 10.00$
Found a 20$ bill in a gutter one night: 20.00$
Average amount per bought ticket, paid to the artist: 11.77$
Average amount per bought ticket, paid to the artist: 9.29$
Full Ticket Price: 11$
‘Munch’ Ticket Price: 11$
Frequent Fringer Ticket Price: 8$ (I did not elect to use discounted tickets for students/seniors, which was an option.)
Total Frequent Fringer ticket sales: 9 = 72.00$
Total Full + Munch ticket sales (advance and at the door): 115 = 1265.00$
Average amount per bought ticket, paid to the artist: 10.79$
Full Ticket Price: 14$
Frequent Fringer 4 Ticket Price: 13$
Frequent Fringer 10/30 Ticket Price: 12$
Admin fee per ticket on all tickets: -3$
Artist take-home of ticket prices: 9$-11$
Total Frequent Fringer 10 or 30 pack ticket sales (9$ per ticket to artist): 11 = 99.00$
Total Frequent Fringer 4 pack ticket sales (10$ per ticket to artist): 11 = 110.00$
Regular ticket sales (11$ per ticket to artist): 136 = 1496.00$
Total Vancouver ticket sales to artist: 1705.00$
Average amount per bought ticket, paid to the artist: 10.80$ Income for writing TITUS: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus: 1000.00$
Total Expenses (including travel costs):
Failed Fringe application fees: -71.25$
Toronto expenses: -1374.30$
Saskatoon expenses: -1186.21$
Nanaimo expenses: -330.21$
Victoria expenses: -813.76$
Vancouver expenses: -968.34$
Other expenses: -261.31$
Total Income: Toronto income: 633.00$
Saskatoon income: 708.01$
Nanaimo income: 520.00$
Victoria income: 1337.00$
Vancouver income: 2705.00$
FINAL FINANCIAL VERDICT: +897.63$ (due entirely to the 1000$ fee paid for writing TITUS.)
Compare to 2014’s +83.51$ Compare to 2013’s -1671.16$
It seems that as a producer/performer, I am still only a roughly break-even fringe artist. Plane tickets are expensive, Toronto is a hard nut to crack, and Saskatoon doesn’t want a show-in-progress.
As a writer, well, it seems I need to get commissioned to write shows more often.
According to Toronto Fringe…
Total # of ticket sales at Toronto Fringe, according to them: 64,000.
Total # of dollars returned to Fringe artists, according to them: 467,000$.
Therefore, average ticket price return for an artist for Toronto Fringe: 7.30$ per ticket ‘sold’.
Note: this is below the supposed minimum of 8.5$ that an artist should be receiving from 10-play-pass purchasers, which implies that the festival heralds comp/free tickets as ‘sold’ tickets in its marketing.
5: TITUS: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus received a FIVE STAR REVIEW from The Vancouver Sun! It was also Picked as a Pick Of The Fringe!
3.5: The number of stars this iteration of William vs The World received from the StarPhoenix in Saskatoon.
17: I have been a part of 17 different fringe festivals since 2011. (2011: Victoria, Vancouver. 2012: Victoria. 2013: London, Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatoon. 2014: Port Alberni, Regina, Saskatoon, Victoria, Vancouver. 2015: Toronto, Saskatoon, Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver. )
22: I have been a part of 22 different Fringe festival shows since 2011. (Directed BFA: The Musical! and Clutter and Contamination, Acted in Henry V, Stage-managed Sonnets For An Old Century, Wrote TITUS.)
This summer began AWFUL and ended wonderfully. I was super worried after Toronto and Saskatoon, though. Ooof.
I can’t get my footing at Toronto Fringe. I just don’t know how to reach an audience there. I felt I had a good show, I had an amazing reception from audience members who came, but never found traction. Not sure I’ll go back unless I’m working with a local Torontonian.
Also, the Tarragon Theatre is ridiculously stingy with their furniture. I needed two chairs and a surface to put things on. I had to go wandering on garbage day to find chairs people were throwing out, because the theatre was unwilling to lend me a couple of their own. And then carry those back to my billet on my back to be hosed down/cleaned. Boooo.
Toronto Fringe is still THE WORST for trying to get other artists to see your show… they essentially don’t allow any artist comps unless you give them a specific name of a specific person hours before your show begins. Which just isn’t practical. And they wouldn’t let us artists all use a given name as a password of sorts, either. We tried.
I had one AMAZING experience at Toronto Fringe, though… a man came up to me after the show, in tears. He actually fell to his knees, then cried into my shoulder a bit. He was a new immigrant from Bolivia who really connected to a moment in the middle of my show when I talk about being the new person to French Immersion, knowing no one, and what courage it takes to do something as simple as start a conversation. It’s moments like that that are why I perform.
Okay, and moments like the night in Nanaimo when a pretty lady kissed me on the cheek after a night of karaoke. I’m a sucker for things like that.
And the dozen-deep cuddle-puddle of fringe artists by the bridge in Saskatoon at 3am.
My Saskatoon show was a rushed job. I fully admit it. I ended up with a good show, but I spent my first while in town finishing and memorizing the script… it’s a good show now, and it’ll be great when I revise it further for Vancouver Fringe this upcoming summer, but aye… I was inside learning lines instead of outside handing out flyers, and the numbers show this. I’m still not sure how to best market the show.
This year’s Saskatoon Fringe had the potential to be much the same, so I dropped out. I’ve done the last-minute-build challenge. The idea I’m percolating… I want to give it a year to workshop at home and improve and grow.
Saskatoon’s Spoof Night is still the best part of the entire Fringe tour.
Nanaimo Fringe had a steep discount for festival passes, lowering the actual ticket price considerably from the 12$ sticker price.
500 Handbills is about 350 handbills too many for Nanaimo.
Handbill cost variation is due to where they were being shipped (Saskatoon vs Toronto vs Vancouver) and due to whether they were being shipped together with other orders or separately.
The gamer in me loves that my final payout in Victoria was 1337.00$ (1337 = LEET = Elite)
Colin Thomas, the big Vancouver reviewer, saw Honest Man in Victoria, and liked it! Well, his review was essentially ‘This was much better than his last show.’ Which I guess is a compliment. He didn’t much care for The Hatter.
Vancouver Fringe was my first time ever selling out a house. Granted, it was a house of fewer than 40 seats, but still. Thank you.
Also, thank you to the tiny Vancouver Fringe audience of other performers who were willing to catch a Saturday afternoon performance just so that I wasn’t doing the show for two people. I put out a message on the fringe facebook thread and a half-dozen kind souls came over to see the show with them. I love this community.
It’ll be hard to see everyone else’s adventures on the tour this summer as I mostly take a backseat.
I am trying to get a venue lined up for a couple more performances of The Most Honest Man In The World here in town. Let me know if you have any leads (or can get the Dusty Flowerpot to get back to me)!
If you missed TITUS, it’s being remounted at The York this August! And a re-invigorated and refocused William vs The World will be at the Arts Umbrella once more for Vancouver Fringe.
So much to do! So much to do! Just keep swimming… just keep swimming…
In the past month and a half I have:
1) performed in two very different showings of BALLS! at the rEvolver Festival,
2) workshopped two separate musicals: Carry On (the show being birthed from the 24 hour SMACKDOWN competition) and TITUS: The Light and Delightful Musical Comedy of Titus Andronicus,
3) acted out several parts of TITUS as part of a public reading for further feedback,
4) officiated my sister’s not-actually-official wedding on an island,
5) Opened The Most Honest Man In The World in an extended 75 minute edition as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Phew. Six more performances here in Toronto to go, as well as preparations for William vs The World in less than a month’s time in Saskatoon, plus more fringe stops in Nanaimo, Victoria, and Vancouver, as well as another TITUS draft sometime in the next couple of weeks.
A few years ago, I had a crazy idea. I had cloistered myself up in British Columbia, hid away in school for twenty straight years, I was anxious and worried that I wouldn’t get the chances to perform in the real world, once I graduated… so I made a plan. A crazy plan. I decided to write myself a one man show and take it across the country.
I had no idea if I could hold anyone’s attention for an hour. I had no idea if I could write a show that’d work. I threw every theatrical idea into the show, creating a mad, patchwork quilt of ideas, and then threw most of them out. I mostly improvised a run at Vancouver Fringe in 2011. I rewrote the darn thing from the ground up. And then I took a deep breath, spent thousands of dollars, and took my little hat and kettle show on the road. First year, I went to London, Ottawa, Toronto, and Saskatoon, spent over two months away from where I lived – the longest I had ever been on the road.
I got stuck backstage and had to pee in a water bottle a couple of minutes before my first performance. I sold exactly zero tickets to three of my first four performances. I was on greyhound buses for forty-three straight hours. I lost money. And it was worth it.
I also met with mentors and brilliant performers who just wanted to help me along my journey. I made friends, colleagues, and talent crushes. I was introduced to the ridiculous art of attempting to smuggle women into your billet’s place without them noticing. I discovered from my billets just how charitable people can be and how awesome retirement is for a lot of people. I traveled the country, flew for only the third time in ten years. I made a man in Saskatoon give me a great big hug, break down, and cry, then loudly whoop at everyone on the street to come see my show.
And then, this summer, I brought The Hatter home. ‘Previewed’ it in Port Alberni to an empty town full of good intentions, brought it to Regina and was fed fancy meats while swatting mosquitoes and having a grand ol’ time. Then came the real homecoming tour.
Next, I went to Saskatoon, which had welcomed me so warmly, it felt like home. There’s a reason I was able to perform the most personal work I’ve ever written, there: a new show, The Most Honest Man In The World. Me being me. And most people still called me The Hatter, anyhow.
Then came Victoria. The big gulp of nervous air, a city of people I had treasured for seven years, then skipped out on when my degree was up. Spent a quarter of my life there. Felt like I was awaiting their judgment, wanting the city, old friends, ex-girlfriends, to tell me I had made the right call, that I’d made something of myself, out there in that bigger ol’ world. And the people who matter, they gave me just that. And oddly, most reassuringly of all, Victoria, well, it didn’t feel like home anymore. The Hatter is a play about searching for home. In its first draft, it was muchly a play of regretting leaving someplace, some people, somewhere. Now, it’s not that.
Now, The Hatter is about moving on.
And here we are in Vancouver, at home, and The Hatter is about to hang up his hat. No future plans for him. Nothing set. Just one more celebration, tonight at 8:15pm.
The unfortunate part about keeping a blog is that the times when I have the most to write about are also the times when I am expending all my creative energy being rather busy elsewhere!
I don’t want to leave you all in the lurch, so here’s a quick recap of all the Fringe-ful activities I am up to this summer:
Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival – June 21st-22nd
Right, this one already happened! In which Andrew learned the difficulty of remounting/relearning an hour-long show in a week’s time, while also acting in five performances of another show (Gay’s The Word with APPLAUSE! Musicals) and while replacing a stolen bicycle. But it happened, it was lovely, and I was awarded the only two awards the festival gave out, the People’s Choice Award and Best Quote (for ‘God Shave The Queen’)!
Regina International Fringe Theatre Festival – July 7th-13th (these festivals have surprisingly long names!) The Hatter A much spiffier poster! Well done, me!
The festival in which I am actually away for more than a weekend. Also the festival in which I don’t have a stage manager… so this’ll be interesting!
Saskatoon PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival – July 30th-Aug 10th
The Most Honest Man In TheWorld (okay, so I am sometimes partial to a long name, myself) The festival I was actually profitable in last year! This year… an experiment! A new show! It may succeed, it may fail. My attempt at a personal storytelling show, described as ‘A life-long love story about the pursuit of honesty over all happiness’. Expect me to tape tissue paper to my head, walk around in tap shoes, and neurotically ponder old relationships and what it means to let go.
Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival – August 21st-31st
The Hatter The first of two home-comings.
Vancouver Fringe Festival – September 4th-14th The Hatter
A return! The show was first birthed in a highly improvised fashion in Vancouver, three years ago. Now I’m bringing it back. (Also, now people know who I am in Vancouver! The first time, I had been off the mainland, over in Victoria, for seven years, and had moved back to Richmond a mere three days before Vancouver Fringe began.)
BUT WAIT! I’M NOT DONE!
Vancouver Fringe Festival – September 4th-14th
Clutter and Contamination: An Obsessive Compulsive Disaster
For the third time in my life, I am a director, tackling my fellow UVic Writing alumni friend Kayla Hart‘s one woman play, Clutter and Contamination. The play will be performed by the lovely Christine Robinson. It has been a pleasure to work with them on the show so far! Directing a show while out on the road will be an interesting experience!
And from there… new adventures and challenges await. Bring’er. 🙂
Some men run to feel the wind in their hair and the blood in their veins, excited muscles and pounding heart. Others run to get somewhere, or to get away from somewhere. Some run because they don’t know what else to do. Some run to inspire. Some to improve themselves. Some to prove to themselves that they can. And some run because they’re afraid of what might happen if they stood still.
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!
Theatre Production 101 – Don’t Do It Alone. Don’t. Seriously.
That’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.
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.
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.’
(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.
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.
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. 🙂
A month ago, my personal story, My Honey Bottle Valentine, was posted over at West of West. Thought I would post it here as well. Enjoy it if you haven’t already read it!
My Honey Bottle Valentine
My dating history is storied with many first dates of the quietly-watch-a-movie-together-and-then-part-ways-when-the-bus-or-parent-arrives-to-pick-them-up variety. Missed conversations, failed-to-ask questions, and a general lack of self-confidence. I felt like girls were doing me a favour by going out with me, rather than that (heaven forbid) them being with me might actually improve their lives. So, until the age of 24, I had only really ever had one girlfriend. For a month and a half. When I was 17. We kissed once, after wrestling over air-hockey paddles. Then she dumped me over the phone.
I had never had a Valentine’s Day date before. Or a Valentine’s Day girlfriend. But I had given a Valentine’s Day gift. Once. Unintentionally.
(This excludes those Valentine’s Day cards everyone gives out in elementary school to classmates, dreading that their popularity pile will be smaller than everyone else’s popularity pile. But I digress.)
Envision 20-year-old Andrew Wade. Unable to grow anything much in the way of facial hair (and what little there was, was inexplicably blond), he seemingly exclusively owned sets of blue jeans and stacks of geeky t-shirts emblazoned with twenty-sided dice or goopy minibosses. A large backpack turtled him. Bike helmet in hand. Oh, and a repurposed plastic honey bottle in his hand, functioning as his oh-so-hilariously-quirky water bottle.
This was in that far-back time of 2007, an age before plastic water bottles had been denounced from the pulpits as cancerous cannisters seeping toxic chemicals into our bloodstreams. That in mind, the strange thick plastics the honey bottle was made of must still be swimming about inside of me to this day… and that’s without mentioning the disturbing black gunk that would inexplicably accumulate within the hard-to-clean confines of the bright yellow squeeze-top lid. Gunk, I might add, which all the water filtered through every time I took a sip.
So yes, 20-year-old Andrew walks into a writing workshop filled with the usual variety of writing students – poetry naturalists from Saskatchewan, balding twenty-something screenwriters from Vancouver, wine-drinking Saltspring Islanders, refugees from Calgary. Thirteen other students, in all. Including her. Let’s call her ‘Emily’ for the sake of this story.
Honesty time: when I first met Emily, the words that immediately passed through my mind were, ‘awkwardly mannish’. Why? Clearly because I’m an awful, insensitive person. Well, I suppose a person’s only insensitive if they voice such thoughts.
So, I suppose I’m only insensitive now.
Anyway, the question of her gender was legitimately in the air for the first little while after I met her. She was taller than me. Wider-shouldered. But thin. Some muscle to her arms. That ambiguous bangs-y short haircut associated with emo-rockers. And strangely thick eyebrows for a white girl. But when she smiled…
Oh, when she smiled, she was the picture of feminine beauty, mixed with a hint of stubborn vulnerability behind her eyes. I admired her writing. Quirky sense of humour. And the clincher, the one thing that made me know I wanted to become her friend: she drank from a repurposed honey water bottle.
I know. Meant to be, right?
Anyway, we had been in weekly writing workshops together for just over a term, meeting in class for three hours, every Wednesday. We hadn’t really connected or shared a good conversation together, but our classroom discussions were collegial enough. Then, on January 31st (remember the date), she arrived to class in disarray, afluster, unsettled. She’d lost her honey bottle.
In the classroom, Emily apologized for her lateness. In my mind, proud bugles resounded with triumphant, soaring blasts! Banners billowed in great shimmers of sunlight! A knight on horseback raised his sword to meet the brilliant dawn! And I was that knight, because back in my room, carefully packed away, waiting, was my spare honey water bottle. Untouched. No teeth marks or gouges. No black gunk. Just waiting for a chance to replace my current bottle, the moment I decided that the black goop grossed me out too much.
But now it had another purpose. Another life. It had to be hers. Or else what would we have in common, other than a workshop table?
That class, I said nothing, but vowed to surprise her with the bottle the very next time we met. Later that evening, I placed the bottle in my backpack, and waited. Didn’t see her on Thursday. On Friday, I spotted her across the quad on campus, but I was in a rush to get to a class. Didn’t see her on Monday. Or Tuesday. And Tuesday nights inevitably involved a stack of workshop edits that took me through the night. All-nighters were not uncommon.
So, sleep-deprived but academically accomplished with several comprehensively edited works in hand, I made it to class, that next Wednesday. And somehow stayed awake through all three hours. Only to rediscover that bottle in my backpack an hour later. Dagnammit.
Next time, I told myself. The next time I saw her, I’d give it to her, she’d be grateful yet puzzled, and it’d spark a conversation. Maybe we’d grab something to eat. Chat. Like friends do. I hoped?
The next time I saw her was the following Wednesday, the following workshop. Gave it to her just before class began, as people were settling in their seats. No time for a proper conversation beyond a puzzled thank you. And all through class, as other classmates read out scripts from yet others, Emily would occasionally glance over at me with a look that was glad and grateful, but above all else, quizzical, as though I were a strange and peculiar puzzle. Gave me a half-smile.
Which was the reaction I was going for. And I got it. Not the food afterwards, mind. I was still too timid in those days. And it wasn’t until my walk back from class until it hit me. The day. The day was February the 14th. The day when countless millions of men were offering their sweeties flowers or chocolate as expressions of their appreciation, affection, lust, love. On the day of highly marketed love, I gave this woman a repurposed, reused, empty honey water bottle.
And as for the gal and I, well, nothing became of it. Some friendly conversations over the course of a couple of years, and then she moved away to distant climes.
And so, it took a two-week-long accident of timing and twenty years of failed first dates for me to offer even the slightest sign of appreciation to a woman on the day devoted to such acts. All rather sad, really. But a good story. And in the telling of it, hopefully, I’m learning to grow beyond it.
But for all my improved confidence and ambition, I will spend this year’s Valentine’s Day at work. After work, I will order a sandwich to go and rush to a theatre for a cue-to-cue technical rehearsal. And after that, I will head home to the single room office I live in, where I will undress, flick off the buzzing fluorescent overheads, crawl into my small bed, and hope that the world has had a happy, lovely day.
Following along with my healthy compulsion toward understanding myself, I have written up a story,My Honey Bottle Valentine, about the first Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever given. You can find it on my brilliant friend Tom Stuart’s web showcase of Vancouver Island writings at WestofWest.ca .
I am proud of them both. Well, not so much proud of my own actions in the first story, per say. I’ve never been as forthcoming or adventurous in my social/relational life as would be good for me. But it is a window into who I am.
And as for Barren Landscapes? Originally written as part of a workshop at UVic, it’s one of those pieces where each time I look back at it, I am dumbfoundedly surprised to see my name up there as the author. It’s a genuinely good piece; I just can’t believe that I was the person who wrote it. An adventurous road trip relationship story from a person who, at that point, had barely been on a road trip and never been in a relationship. And yet, while it is a story about someone getting swept away by an unpredictable, charismatic woman… it’s not merely me penning a personal fantasy. If anything, it might be more of a warning.
So, most end of year wrap-ups happen… at the end of the year. But with my Christmas Panto not ending until last Saturday and my next show (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) starting rehearsals last last Monday, on top of work and auditions… let’s just say that 2012 is hopefully proving to be just as busy. 🙂
So! Onto the performances, in approximate order. (I don’t have a photo for all of them.)
Improviser, The Impromaniacs, Theatresports/Theatreshorts (Jonathan Argue for The Impromaniacs, and Dave Morris for Theatresports/Theatreshorts) (VEC) – With the advent of Sin City Improv, small audiences, and Jonathan Argue finally stepping away from the helm after perhaps twenty years, The Impromaniacs disappeared into the aether. But the revived Theatreshorts provided a good place for improvisers to get their feet wet and grow as performers. (still on every 4th Sunday of every month at the VEC!)
Malvolio, Twelfth Night (Phoenix Theatre)
Wow. What a role. What a cast. What a production. What pants. A perfect storm of awesome.
Workshop Leader, UVic Improv. – I received four separate requests from four different people, asking me to bring back UVic Improv (which hadn’t been around for over a year). How could I say no? Thank you to Amy Culliford and Blair Moro for keeping it alive this year.
Playwright, Mannequin Men (Phoenix Theatre directing project directed by Christine Johnson, and also directed by Sarah Crowell as part of the Acadia Theatre Company’s Minifest 2011 in Nova Scotia)
Playwright, What I’d Be Without You (Acadia Theatre Company, Minifest 2011). – I really, REALLY wish they had filmed this so I could have seen how it was performed. It’s a short piece I would love to see up on its feet some day. As you can see, the pictures they sent over look amazing.
Willy Beach, the poor boy, Sin City Improv, Season One (ten episodes of a weekly improvised soap opera) – Possibly the most fun I have ever had onstage. And I have A LOT of fun onstage. 🙂
Pischin/Gaev, The Cherry Orchard (directing scene) (UVic – directed by Joelle Haney)
Improv Actor/Dancer, Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons) (UVic Chorus and Orchestra) – possibly the strangest opportunity I’ve ever had. Improvise dance-ish stuff next to opera singers and an orchestra for the third quarter of a performance? Sure, why not! (Thanks to Hayley Feigs for sharing in the experience with me.)
Mark, When We Were Awesome: A Karaoke Musical (UVic Directing Auteur Project – directed by Jesse Cooper)
Presentation Day – Movement Pieces
Presentation Day – Acting/Vocal Masque
Rowan, How Socrates Bought The Farm (Dan Hogg / Jeremy Lutter / UVic)
Stephen Harper at 8 and 18 years old, Wrecking Ball 2 (VEC)
William, William vs The World (UFV Director’s Festival)
Improviser, Good Night Harold! (Intrepid Theatre Club) – arranged by the lovely Kirsten Van Ritzen for some Sin City alumni to play for a night. A reunion of sorts. 🙂
Zacchaeus, (youth event), Adam, Elijah, Peter, Pandamania (Lambrick Park Church)
Monologuist, Monobrow IV (Intrepid Theatre Club)
Bilge Rat, Pirate Adventures (Victoria Harbour)
The King of France, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Soldier, Henry V (KeepItSimple Productions)
Vincent Scott (lawyer), Unsound Innocence (Hungarian TV of BC Foundation)
Stage Manager, Sonnets for an Old Century (Victoria Fringe – Langham Court Theatre)
Director, BFA: The Musical! (Victoria Fringe – Langham Court Theatre)
William, William vs The World (Victoria Fringe – CCPA)
Alvin, Please Print Clearly (short film by Liam Sherriff) (yes, that’s me living in a filing cabinet.)
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)