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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Dramatic Year in Review...

Well, so long to 2008. It has been busy.

I started out the year with Crimes of the Heart. A wonderful start to any year. It was certainly one of the most gratifying projects I have ever worked on and I was proud of the product and the work.

I zipped into Baby. This project was not as satisfying as the first. I did, however, learn some things about what I will do with my time. I shall trust my instincts about projects. I did enjoy working with Magnolia and Shelby and I worked with a lovely cast and crew, however, I know that I was disappointed with the overall product and that work was not stimulating enough to commit that time to a similar project in future.

I squeezed in Assistant Directing Cellar Doors, Secret Gardens at Walterdale for the One Acts. I don't know how much I contributed, but I did what I could with the limited time I had available.

Then what? The Fringe. On a whim I auditioned for Cinderella and got the Fairy Godmother role. What fun. I so enjoyed working with Linette and meeting and working with the exuberant young cast. It was also enjoyable to make money for acting. First time that has ever happened!

In the Spring I made a decision about going back to school. I had researched this over a year earlier but it didn't feel right then. Now was the time. So in the Fall I started Drama Classes at the U of A. It was truly a learning experience and I had to think a lot about how I 'do' my drama. I will continue courses into the Winter term and next year.

Overlapping with drama classes, I did Black Hearts in the Green Room, a new work at Walterdale Playhouse. This was a challenging project. It was one of the most difficult scripts I ever have had to learn. I was frustrated with some of the process because of the varying levels of abilities of the cast. However, I learned a lot about melodrama and made some wonderful friendships. This was one of the most enjoyable casts I have ever worked with and when we opened we were a real team. It felt good. It also felt good to close. I resolved never to do a show at this time of year again. It was too challenging with the demands of the rest of my life. Lesson learned.

Through the whole year I maintained my position as Secretary on the Board of Directors for Walterdale Theatre. I also participated in the entertainment for the 50th Anniversary Gala. I saw a lot of shows (Lion in Winter, 18 Fringe Shows, Half Life, Children of a Lesser god, Pride and Prejudice, Mo and Jess Kill Susie, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff, Spamalot, Hairspray, The Madwoman of Chaillot, A Pair of 3s, Desire Caught by the Tail, Without You, and Crazy for You) and tried to be reflective about their strengths and weaknesses. In any case, I feel like I have supported theatre in my community! I joined the ELOPE Board of Directors (although I have been unable to go to a single meeting - ha ha), and have been invited to join Kompany's Board of Directors (again, I have not been able to make a meeting).

What does the next year hold for me? Well, I have a big job on the horizon. I hope to scale back a bit, but I doubt I will be able to. Already I have 3 projects in the first 3 months of the year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This time of year is busy. It was busier still coming out of a show. The craziest is done. I enjoyed a somewhat restrained Christmas Eve at my folks place replete with the traditional oyster stew and iced sugar cookies. On Christmas day the clan came to my place for a big turkey dinner. All went well. This was my second solo on making the meal. I made one security phone call and I figure that next time I shall be able to get through it without the phone call. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at being able to complete this meal without recipe book and with only a single phone call to check on times and procedures. I made far too many mashed potatoes, just the right amount of stuffing (although Mark would eat it for days and days so he might say there wasn't enough), the turkey was juicy and browned perfectly and certainly no one went hungry.

On Boxing Day we drove to Olds for a revisit of the Christmas meal. There was ham as well, so I escaped having to overdose on turkey. The visit was okay, but somewhat strained for no discernible reason. This is typical. I have learned to take a book. My being sick also allowed for a trip to the hotel in the afternoon on the 27th for a nap. We did not see Mark's sister. She did not come over or call and Mark is tired of doing all the work. It is easier to play the avoidance game. Too many imagined injuries from the past that we are unaware of to deal with. Perhaps she really did have migraines...

We returned home on the 28th. The drive was good. We had a flat tire in Olds that Mark got repaired but he said the truck handled funny the whole way home. I am sick and tired of the car troubles we have been having! I received good news regarding the position I have applied for via e-mail and a phone message. It has to go to the Board, but I am fairly certain of the outcome. Yay! More to come on that, when I can...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Show Down...

We wrapped up the show on Saturday night. We had a very nice sized house for the close which was a nice way to end it. The general feedback was that the 'theatre snobs' enjoyed themselves, but found the piece full of holes and lacking gravitas (ha ha - it was a melodrama) and that the non-theatre folk had a great time. I think we did what we could with the piece and with the talents and skills available. I did wish that the playwright had been more actively involved in the whole process so that some of the holes could have been sewn up a little. But I think we all committed to selling the piece as is and that worked. Our shows themselves were highly audience dependent. My best show of the run was the first Saturday, but the closing Friday and Saturday were up there. Again, the audience was a big factor and the success of the chair fall.

I enjoyed working with the group on this project. I was sick on and off (mostly on) for the majority of the rehearsal period which side-tracked my fitness plans. Illness also affected my mood so I was crankier than usual. I think that I pulled it together for the process, but you never know. The group, primarily new to Walterdale, was enthusiastic and fun and genuinely happy to be there so that made for a good experience. I hope to see many of them back for future shows as I think they had the right attitude. It wasn't the closeness of Magnolias or the near-perfection of Crimes, but I did make good friends and we entertained honestly and earnestly.

On Sunday, I interviewed for AD at Walterdale. The boys put me through a rigorous 2 1/4 hour interview. The questions were free-flowing, all over the place, hypothetical and practical. As far as I know I am the only candidate (I could be wrong), but they are not telling me until New Years (possibly this weekend). I am not sure why the wait. Personally I think they would be hard pressed to find a better candidate at this point in time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Evaluation - Follow-up

I had a delightful, shocking surprise the other day. My prof from Drama had sent out an email message to the class saying that the highest mark in the class was a B+. I hoped for a B since I blew the midterm so badly. A B+ was mathematically possible, but only if I'd aced everything afterward. I wasn't holding out hope. THEN, later that week, I got another personal email from the prof telling me that the mark on my mark sheet that had been mailed out to me was B+, BUT she had actually increased the mark to A- because of my marked growth and improvement in the course. She apparently has discretion to bump marks up even if they aren't mathematically supported if she feels it is warranted. I AM IN SHOCK. I am pleased. I have heard that they never give As in Drama 150 as a general rule. I am enjoying this early Christmas present and am again grateful for the group that I worked with on my final project because I know that really helped.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Using Stress to Get Things Done...

Last night I stared at the mound of unopened Christmas cards that sat on my table and I started to feel the stress of not having started my cards. You have to understand, for years I have been the Christmas Card Queen. Even when I was in University I sent out at least 40 cards. This surged to over 80 in my heyday. Since we moved, or even since we had Gibson, I have faltered and this inability to keep up with the past causes me stress every Christmas. Some years I stalled the activity until January and called it a letter for the New Year. I still felt guilty about it. I know I shouldn't. I know some people send no cards out at all. But I like doing them. I just haven't had time. Anyhow, I stared at those cards and started opening them and reading them and the letters that accompanied them. And the stress that started to well in me cause me to scrabble together my 'year at a glance' and print off 40+ of them. Today, I started with the envelopes and in just 3 hours I completed 37 cards. There will be more to come, but at least I have written a card to everyone that sent me one and also to those who I usually get one from and those that I feel need an update (like Grandmas and Aunts and Uncles). I feel good as I look at the stack of cards.

Now I need to buy stamps.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Visit

This weekend my sister came to visit. It was a quick one, but it was good to see her and chat since we have been playing telephone tag for the last 2 months and we actually resorted to emails just to catch up. I know she reads my blog so I am sure she had some information on me, but I needed my Annie-fix! The visit coincided with my show, so she and Mom came Saturday. The cast requested that she be invited every night since her laugh is (like mine) very loud and spontaneous. There were other loud laughs that night, but I could definitely hear hers. I am blessed with close relationships with my siblings. I know that not everyone has that. Sure, there are the things that drive us crazy because we know them so well, but as distance and time interferes with seeing them on a more regular basis, those little quirks actually become more endearing. I was just thinking about that today. Thanks for the visit, Sis!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Half Way Through the Run...

Well, we are 5 shows down and 5 to go. Things are going well. The strength of the show really rests strongly on the character and size of the audience. Opening, Thursday and Saturday nights we had larger and more enthusiastic audiences so those shows seemed to have more energy. I think, for me, Saturday was my strongest show. Everything worked and maybe it was because my sister and Mom were in the audience because I was just feeling it and I think it played on stage. Friday and Sunday we had smaller and more subdued houses. On Friday almost all of the theatre jokes fell flat so we had to re-gear for making the rest of the jokes work. In any case, it is a lesson in how you have to keep the energy even if it isn't coming from the house. I am glad for the day off to recuperate.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why Do I Feel Insulted?...

So yesterday evening before the show I got there early. As I was getting my make-up on I overheard the other two 'early arriving actors' talking about doing an radio interview about the show. I was excited about the idea that we would get more press so I piped up "Oh! Are you guys doing some kind of interview?". The two of them suddenly looked very nervous and sad for me and they averted their eyes as one of them said, "Uh, yeah, uh, Scott set it up, but, uh, they only wanted the ghosts... uh, sorry, but, uh, I guess the ghosts sell.". I replied with a chipper "That's cool. Great to get more press for the show!" - because that's what I thought. But later, I felt insulted. NOT because I was not invited to the interview, but because they were keeping it a big secret (not just from me, but from the rest of the cast) because they think we are all a bunch of babies who would be more upset that we weren't in the interview rather than happy about the show getting publicity. I never think secrets contribute to a better working relationship, regardless of how you think people will react. If someone is going to be a baby about why they aren't in an interview and someone else is, then you call them on that when it happens. Don't assume that I won't be a grown-up and insult me in a different way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Opening, Another Show...

I can't believe how many shows I have done since moving to Edmonton. I remember, before we moved, feeling anxious about what the opportunities would be. I could not have predicted the amount of projects I have worked on in the last 3 1/2 years. I tallied them when I was updating my resume for a position I was applying for (I have an interview on Dec 21st - cross your fingers!). I am up to 12 shows (ranging from set painting, to acting, to directing, to writing). This does not include the University course and the additional writing I have done when I can fit it in! I might have accumulated that many shows in twice the time in Fort McMurray... it's hard to call, because I would have likely had more kids had I stayed there.

So, last night we opened Black Hearts in the Green Room at Walterdale Playhouse. It went off swimmingly! The Opening Night audience was full of those appreciative of the melodrama. They booed and hissed and oohed and aahed at all the appropriate times. I was a bit worried in rehearsal about the cheesiness of some of the bits, but the audience embraced the fromage with gusto! We need an audience like that every night!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Proper Frame of Mind...

Tonight is our first 'Tech Dress' for Black Hearts in the Green Room. We open on Wednesday, December 10th, but we have our first audience on Monday night for the director's Preview. We are ready, I think. Well, I know I am. It is a funny little show. Nothing earth-shaking or anything and it really blends melodrama and farce. There are times we break the 4th wall and times we don't. So there is a bit of inconsistency of form, but I just play it all with conviction and intention and I hope it sails out the right way. I think I thought that the playwright would be more involved in the process of mounting his show, but he has been very hands off. There are places I would have liked him to be there to maybe tighten up the writing. It you come and see it, we can chat about that! In any case, it is time to get focused. My drama class is blessedly done so other than 'family life' I only have the show to worry about. That's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Right now I feel sick to stomach over the proposed Coalition government for Canada. To me, I see this as a total disregard for democracy in Canada. If this was really in the best interest for Canadians and respecting of their desires, then ethically, the three parties in question would have joined together prior to the election (held only 6 weeks ago) and let the population make their decision then. If the Canadian people were overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the direction the current government was going, then the minority government would have been smaller, not larger. It is clear to me that Canadians do not have confidence in Stephane Dion as the leader of our country. Perhaps in another time, but not now, or else the election would have had a much different result.

I write to you as someone who affiliates with no particular party, as none of them meet my personal beliefs exactly. I do, however, vote in every election. When the elections come I weigh my choice carefully. I look at the promises and plans made. In this past election, for the first time in a Federal election, I voted Conservative. Prior to that I have voted NDP and Liberal (I considered Green, but I find it's mandate too confined). I am angry that a small group of men and women want to disregard the way in which our government has been organized in an obvious power grab. You cannot say that this is best for Canada. It is abhorrent. There has been no transparency, and if the people involved were really being honest with the Canadian public, then they would have joined together prior to the election, out in the open, not in this back room dealing.

These men and women should tread cautiously. Just because you think you can do the job better, doesn't mean you should have the job. The way I see it, they failed the job interview when they lost the election.