Total Pageviews

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Frustration... trying to stay engaged but it's getting to me...

This week I have been kind of annoyed with recent events with the EPSB. A couple of newspaper articles about the EPSB making a statement about urban sprawl at the expense of children within the district raised my hackles. Not because I think urban sprawl is a non-issue, but rather because I do not think it is the 'job' of the school board. Their job, as I see it (as their employer and share-holder) is to manage the education of the children within the district whatever their postal code. An email and subsequent phone call with Dave Colburn, the Board Chair, to express my concerns did not alleviate my concerns. It was quite clear to me that he valued some children's education more than others. He also treated more like an opponent during an election than as a concerned parent within his district. Did not like that at all. I know I shouldn't let it get me angry, but it did. These are my children.

I will continue to do what I can to maximize the educational results for my children, but what frustrated me the most was the implication that because I do things like read and work with my kids, volunteer at my kids school, and provide an enriched environment for them, that the Board felt that they were less deserving of priority within the school system. I think all students should have the same things when they walk in the building. My kids should not have larger classrooms and less resources because of the 'extras' that I, and parents like me, do. I do those things to enrich, not to bring them up to a baseline. Will I stop volunteering and doing the work I do - No. But I felt like I should, because he made me feel like those things were the exact reasons why certain postal codes were not a priority.

Now there's an article about cutting positions due to lack of funding from the province. My fear is that the inner-city centric Board will drain more funds from the outside the core of the city and the larger classrooms will be from those less-prioritized postal codes. I have already had one child who has been in a 29 student grade 3 class and a 26 student grade 4 class (those are huge for elementary) and I have a second who will likely be going into a split class. My fear is that they will do away with the split and operate with a plus 30 student grade 2 class. Ours is a school (in a neighborhood that is over 25 years old - not brand new) that is over-capacity and over-compensating for those under enrolled schools that they do not want to close. So it is hard for me to feel sympathy for those who don't want to close schools. Your children are not more important than mine and nothing you say will convince me that they are.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Waiting to Gel...

Spent the afternoon putting together a bookshelf and listening to the two songs I sing on in A Little Night Music. I am getting very familiar with them both. It is strange to be working on so many projects at once. You wouldn't think so, considering my history, but it is in that with A Little Night Music all the participants are very busy so we have been getting together in little groups and fits and starts. Luckily many of us know each other, but I think it might be one of those shows that we gel in towards the end of the process. Which is okay, but I hope it starts gelling a little bit next week... I do rehearse 3 times for it next week after all...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Opening... 3 shows in 1!

Last night was the Opening Night of From Cradle to Stage. As Artistic Director of WTA I have had special connection to the One Act Festival. My first show with Walterdale was in Lunatic, a show from the 2006 One Acts (I don't know if it was called From Cradle to Stage that year). I loved the idea of a community theatre producing and investing in new work. My second season at Walterdale, my play, Pieces (which I am currently re-drafting and directing for Fringe 2011) was produced. It was my first 'grown-up' play as my previously produced work was a TYA. I loved the process. I have been involved on some level with the One Acts every year I have been a member of Walterdale. I have assistant directed, coordinated the readings, and directed a staged reading. I will miss working on it. This time around I tried to stay further away so that the people involved could find their own voice. I worried, because I am the type of person who likes to know everything, but my initial instincts proved out last night. All three directors did fine work with the 3 scripts they were given to work with. The three playwrights were happy with the products (yay!). That's all I can ask for. I am debating submitting for next season. I have a couple of scripts I could send in (with work). It would be nice to come full circle. If not, I am sure I will submit in future years.

If you get a chance, check the show(s) out. It runs until May 28th at Walterdale.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Run Don't Walk... Otherwise you won't make it...

Last night I had the read-through for what will basically be the Rehearsal Draft of Pieces (Finally Sauces' 2011 Fringe show). I was very pleased with it and am excited to start working. We have a very tight, but spread out, rehearsal schedule and I won't be there next week as I have A Little Night Music Rehearsals all week, so AM will lead the initial text work. Tonight is Opening Night for From Cradle to Stage. I will be there to do my pre-show speech and watch the shows and enjoy the reception. Tomorrow I have a meeting with Ted, my builder for Village of Idiots. Alli got the drawings to me yesterday and I dropped them off to Linette, the Director - now I need to get them to Ted. I am looking forward to starting work on the set and have started painting props in my kitchen. I have also started collecting things that I think might work.

Today I woke up with a headache. I tried to sleep it off, but had to get up to medicate. It is starting to subside now that I ate something so whether it was food or the medication, I don't care. My head feels much better. I am still tired though, so I might take a wee nap this afternoon... so I can run later...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Do What You Need to Do to Make it Work...

This is the story of my life as a Director when it comes to scheduling. I thought my Fringe show was going to be easier, but despite having only 5 actors, it was a major challenge. My schedule doesn't help, but I planned to use Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings to get around the worst of A Little Night Music. A wrench was thrown in that with one actor unable to do Sundays. I knew I had one big challenge with one actor being away the last two weeks of July, but the plan was to use the week before Fringe Techs start to review and tighten. I could make this work. But a different actor came in with a conflict that affected 5 out of 7 of those days in that week. That's the section about which I am most worried.

I haven't even got all the conflicts in, but I had to start constructing a schedule before any more of them filled up the remaining weeks with vacations, or visits from families, or other rehearsals (2 of my actors are in other Fringe shows). I laid it all on the calendar. In June there were 6 days in total where I could use everyone and 4 of those were days I could potentially be scheduled for ALNM. Okay, now I need to write a sucky email to my ALNM Director asking for days off in June. I wanted 8 rehearsals in June - I can get 6. In July, it's even worse. There are only 3 days where everyone is available and 2 of those I have potential ALNM rehearsals. I write about that in my sucky email to my ALNM Director. Apparently those 2 days are 2 of only 3 days she has her whole cast until Aug 16th, can I give her one of them? I will do so, because I know what it is like, but my cast needs to rehearse without me there so I will put someone else in charge that night and fix what I need to the next night. In July there are 6 rehearsals (I wanted 8 minimum) one of which I cannot be at.

Now I don't need them all for ALL of the rehearsals, but because of the structure of the show I need 4/5 of them at almost all times. It's done. We will rehearse 20 times between now and then if we are lucky (like I said, I still don't have all the conflicts). No one can be sick. No one can throw another 'surprise' holiday in the works. This is THE schedule.

Next year, if we decide to do a Fringe show and we get in - I am building the schedule first and saying 'if you can't work with this, then I will find someone else, I love you, but maybe next time...'

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Why I Love Edmonton's Arts Scene...

Because there is simply so much to see and such different types of theatre. In the past 10 days I have seen 3 very different musicals produced by community and professional theatres (see earlier post) with wide ranging budgets, talents, scripts and themes. I also saw this evening a wonderful new work from Andrea Beca called Bunburying which combined Oscar Wilde and Big Brother and is really hard to explain beyond that except that I simply loved it. Unfortunately for you, it closed tonight... perhaps she will remount it? Last night I went to a fundraising Gala evening put on by JTMF-West for HIV Edmonton. There I saw and listened to Simon-Marc deFreitas (a classical pianist), David Shepherd (a lovely singer-songwriter), 100 Mile House (a folksy trio with stand out music), as well as 3 Trevor Anderson films. I bought CDs for the middle two, because I could and because I think Mark will like them. All this in 10 days.

Now I move into tech week for From Cradle to Stage at Walterdale. I don't have much to do since I am set painter of a very small set, but I did pick up the job of make-up artist as well. I also will be rehearsing for A Little Night Music on the other nights. It never stops.

I am planning on other things to see in Edmonton, and because this city is so busy, I have my choice. I want to see the Mayfield's 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and I have tickets to Wicked at the Jube. I also want to see Teatro's When Girl's Collide (hopefully I can fit it in). I also would like to catch Edges, which is being put on by Powerhouse Performance Company. I have my fingers crossed but this is a busy week. Whew! How do the Sterling Jury members manage it all?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Damage Control... Before This Gets Worse, I'd Better Do Something...

I have always had good intentions when it comes to working out. However, you know how good intentions work... throw in my life and nothing that is completely and only about me gets done. However, this week it is pretty bad. I had a dance rehearsal Tuesday night for A Little Night Music wherein we waltzed for about 45 minutes of the hour and a half (maybe a bit more, hard to tell), this was followed by set painting the next morning for about 3 and a half hours at Walterdale and on Thursday morning I was walking like a 90 year old. My right knee was killing me and my lower back was not happy. I took Thursday off and tried to rest through the ache, but then I painted again on Friday and that afternoon was not good. I know that I have to make the time for me to get in better shape. I am not going to run marathons, I do not even care what size I wear, it's the aches and pains that I cannot deal with. This week must start with me as priority. That is my intention... let's hope I follow through.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Weekend of Musicals!

This past weekend I was in theatre heaven - for me - that is. I saw, not one, not two, but three musicals! Not only that, but I saw a variety of productions, produced with a variety of budgets and coming from Professional and Community teams. It was a great weekend for theatre for me!

The first show I saw was Into the Woods, produced by ELOPE. Just a warning, I am on the Board of Directors so there is bias there. It was a very well done production. The music, Sondheim no-less, was outstanding. Kudos to Brad Heintzman for his Music Direction. A few off notes, but it's tough stuff and they were few and far between. The design was lovely and all in all it was a good night of theatre. There were some stand-outs, Elizabeth Marsh as the Witch is a force onstage, Morgan Smith as the Mysterious Man stole the show every time he snuck on, Stephanie Wigston was a fierce and engaging Little Red, and David Wilson was the perfect Prince and Wolf. I also loved Cinderella's Step-mother and Step-sisters (Adeline Dewar, Janine Hodder and Erika Noot). They were so delightfully wicked and selfish and animated. I wished they were on more. I wish this crew had a longer run. The five shows is hardly enough to settle in and from what I heard the show grew through the run. It wasn't perfect, it's a tough show technically and there were issues there and I had some issues with pacing and staging choices, but it is an Everest of a show and they reached for the summit. They didn't always reach it, but there is something to be said for making the attempt.

On Saturday night I caught Impulse Theatre's production of Boygroove. These four guys are recent Grant Mac Grads and they poured their heart and talent into this Chris Craddock musical that parodies and gives homage to boy bands. It was fanstastic. All four guys (Timothy Cooper, Mathew Bittroff, Eric Wigston, and Byron Martin) were excellent singers, dancers, and actors - switching from their boy band personas to the other personalities that populate the world of making it in the boy band music world. It's not for children, or even teeny-boppers despite the topic, but the script is sharp and funny and smart. It only works with a strong cast and direction and this had both. Trevor Schmidt directed and his pacing and staging was terrific. Occasionally the boys were a little close to the audience (I wanted them a step back) but I know they were moving from space to space (it's a 3 city tour - they head to Fort McMurray this week) and I suspect the staging was limited by where they could focus the lights for their effects. In fact this is such a minor point, I should stop talking about it. It was so nice to hear such strong harmonies and see 4 guys who are not only able to dance but they dance very well. It was also interesting how the script used humour to actually deal with some real issues. Anyhow, I loved it! I hope they do well in the Fort McMurray leg of their run.

And then on Sunday night, I was lucky to catch a Preview performance of Little Women at The Citadel Theatre. I was excited to see it because Susan Gilmour (Fantine in Les Mis on Broadway!) was playing Marmee and I was totally unfamiliar with the show and it is always cool to discover a show in that way. Now, there is a challenge with musicals that are adapted from well read and well loved books. They have to remain true to the book so that those that are familiar with it are satisfied and yet a book does not have the same arc as a play or musical so the script needs to adapt to provide push where the book might not have the same push. This means that some events are left out while others are highlighted for the sake of the stage story. All in all, I think this script does a good job and picking and choosing for the sake of serving both masters. Some of the songs are less memorable because they don't serve the same function as they would in a 'new' work or a work adapted from less familiar material, but the singing is always strong and the actors are selling them both emotionally and artistically. The show was in the MacLab and I think that was the ideal space for it. It is a show that requires a level of intimacy so that you feel you are a part of this family and the MacLab certainly helps create that. It's design with three levels of the house was warm and cozy and the cast was able to reach out to the audience while still seeming to be occupying their world. The show is well-cast particularly the five women who make up the March family. A few of the voices are small in their singing and they seem to rely on their mics to push the sound, but everyone was tuneful and committed emotionally. Gilmour is wonderful and truly the perfect Marmee. You sense you are seeing and hearing someone with a real gift when she sings. However, the true stars of the show are Shannon Taylor as the irrepressible, tom-boy, ambitious Jo and Josee Boudreau as the kind-hearted, soul of the show, Beth. The two of them sing the strongest, most moving song of the show and their voices carry the audience along on the emotional journey with them. I also enjoyed Jeremy Crittenden as Laurie and David Leyshon as Professor Bhaer - both have beautiful voices and do a good job holding their own in this play that is so much about the women. It's not an earthshaking show, it won't throw you for a loop or shake your foundation of being, but it's solid and does fair justice to the book and to being a musical and I really enjoyed the evening.