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Monday, January 30, 2012

A Plethora of Theatre Options...

The next few weeks offers up a lot of choices for the Edmonton Theatre goer. If you can't find something to see in February that you want to see then I think you'd have to literally be a rock. I have plans to go to at least 4 shows in the next few weeks and there are others that I would love to catch if I can squeeze it in.

First up - I will be seeing the show I directed for New Works and the other shows that are playing in the Festival. New Works is an annual theatre festival at the University of Alberta where University of Alberta student can submit and if selected have their work dramaturged and produced. For the most part the teams on the show are all current students or staff of the university. There are occasionally exceptions when a particular skill set is required, but usually an alumni is located to step in. There are 6 shows - 2 nights with 3 shows each night. It is a great opportunity to see new work by the next generation of Edmonton theatre artists. I have directed Bevin Dooley's work, The Playmates which features Katie Orsten, Kabriel Lilly and Jordan Sabo. We open (night B) on February 8th at 7:30 p.m. I am quite pleased with the production thus far. I think that Bevin is a gifted writer who constantly strives to make her script better. She has a strong voice and a gift for creating mood and believable, compelling dialogue. The entire festival opens on February 7th and runs to the 12th.

Really first, but listed second - I am lucky enough to be able to catch a Preview show of Edmonton Opera's The Mikado. I actually know the music for this one as I was in a modified production of The Mikado a few years a go. It's a G & S so it should be a lot of fun, AND the pictures of the costumes are amazing. They are going with an anime kind of aesthetic and it looks very cool. The Edmonton Opera always seems to have very high standards, but this will no doubt be a more accessible production for most audiences because it will be in English. I am pretty sure it is going to be a fun night!

Third, I will be attending Albertine in Five Times at Walterdale. I am a bit biased on this one because the cast contains 5 of my very good friends and although I don't know the 6th as well, I do know she is a strong actress and a lovely person. The entire cast is strong. Any one of those women could anchor a show by themselves so I will be surprised if this is anything less than wonderful. It's also a Canadian work by Michel Tremblay and I do love supporting Canadian theatre! It opens February 8th and runs to the 18th.

Fourth, I MUST SEE Wishbone Theatre's Waiting for Godot. I really like everything I have seen this company do and to get the chance to see them do Waiting for Godot just tickles me. I remember reading the play in grade 10 and thinking, "What the - ?" and then I saw it a few years later and it suddenly made sense (in the way that it doesn't...). Such a tremendous pieces of work and looking at the assembled cast and production team I think I will be in for a good night of theatre. It's directed by the delightful Chris Bullough (who I always love onstage, and who directed the brilliant Shimmer 2 Fringes ago). I am really looking forward to it.

My next few weeks will be packed!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Ladies Who first amuse, then terrify...

I scored a date for The Ladies Who Lynch at Canoe Festival this evening. It was a mix of hysterical and terrifying and overall meant for a good theatrical adventure. Some things worked better than others for me. I was very impressed with Candace Berlinguette as Judith and Nadien Chu as Maureen and the other two ladies on stage held their own. Hard to know if it is the characters as written that are more compelling or the actors playing them. In any case, there weren't any weak links in that regard. It was also the right choice of a play to see to connect to the work I am doing in my Drama 409 class. I spent the last two days researching Split Britches, a Lesbian-Feminist theatre company out of New York, and although this was not a Feminist-Lesbian piece, it did challenge certain societal and cultural expectations. It was also post modern in that it did not track as 'real' and the arc was not traditional. Even off the top there was a self-awareness that underscored the piece.

I like to see things like this, but not all the time. I think that, for me, I enjoy this type of production more in contrast to other things. I wonder at those who only go for one type of theatre experience. I certainly find my experiences enriched by occasionally challenging them. I don't always 'get it' or 'connect' to every piece, but if I only see the same things I get very, very bored and it becomes more about the glass of wine at intermission than the actual show. That can't be good.

#2 of my projected 40 theatrical events for the year

Walterdale Event - Donor Voted Show

Last night Walterdale held it's Donor Voted Show event, a great event for socializing, supporting the theatre and for getting to have a say in picking one of the shows for next season. As Treasurer I had a couple of duties: taking donations (it was a nicely supported event!) and counting the votes. I was a bit surprised and delighted that The Weir by Conor McPherson was selected. Surprised, because I really thought Dracula was going to win based on the in-house support, and Delighted, because I wanted it to win. I would have been happy with any of the three choices as I think anything that gets the audience more engaged with the theatre is a good thing and there was definitely engagement last night. As well, the vote was close so who is to say that Dracula can't be submitted another year with just as much interest?

Tonight I am hoping to catch The Ladies who Lynch at the Canoe Festival (it all depends on whether I stop writing this blog and get my homework done...). I missed this show when it was presented the first time in town and heard great things about it. It was written by Jason Chinn at the last 24 Hour Playwrighting competition where I wrote Tight Rope and the scene read from it was hilarious in a very dark way. Tomorrow I am hoping to end my rehearsal a half hour early so that I can catch the beginning of the last panel for Canoe Festival. It's right in the Timm's and we are in good shape with Playmates. We finished a 1/2 hour early on Thursday, so it is completely doable if all goes well.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Back in the Rehearsal Hall

I spent this last week re-acclimatizing to University and sorting out exactly what I would be taking. I decided that I would stick to Drama 409 (Contemporary Theatre) and dropped Drama 240 (Oral Communication and Interpretation). I quite liked 240, but could quickly see that 409 was going to take a lot of time for homework and the steepness of the learning curve as we dived into Phillip Glass and Hamletmachine and the like was going to require I scale back. After two classes my brain is hurting (a good thing) and I am excited about what the course will bring. I feel like this exploration into contemporary and post-modern theatre will enrich my play writing as it might encourage me to play with structure and language. I know that I am fairly traditional in my writing, but I am excited to push myself.

I also got back into rehearsals of Playmates for New Works. We did a bit of exploration and text work before the break and Bevin came back with a tighter and even more effective script. I think she finds my process helpful to the writing for which I am glad. I really feel that new work is a type of theatre that I am a good Director for. The piece is nicely challenging and I have to work to keep the tensions and engagement up through a lot of silences and pauses (intentional) and I like that. We started some initial blocking yesterday and got through about a 1/4 of the script and I like the initial shape.

I am also looking into fulfilling my obligation to theatre-going this month. I saw a youtube clip of Ghost River Theatre's The Highest Step in the World, that is playing at The Arden in St. Albert January 27-28 and I really want to check it out. I want to take my oldest son, as well, as I think he will be amazed by it. Here's the link to the clip:

That's all I have on the radar. If I can make it to Big Shot at the Roxy I will. I am also hoping to check out more of the Canoe Festival, especially since some of it is at the University.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Tale As Old As Time - A Great Night out with Friends!

On Saturday, Mark and I attended the Broadway Across Canada production of Beauty and the Beast at the Jube. We have season's tickets and we go with our good friends, Richie and Veronica, so we get to see some musical theatre and connect with our friends at least 3 times a year. I had seen 2 other productions of Beauty & the Beast previously and Mark had seen one other (not the same ones though) and we have probably seen the Disney cartoon over 25 times so we were travelling in familiar territory. I quite liked it. It was better than the 2 productions I have seen (one a community production and the other and hybrid semi-pro production) and finally I saw a production that did proper service to Be Our Guest. I felt the ending hit the right emotional notes and I even got a little teary-eyed. I did feel that there were a couple performers who would not have careers if it weren't for the technological support of the microphones just because their voices lacked real power, but they were miked so it was covered. Mark said he preferred the production he saw previously (The Citadel's from a few years ago) but that he enjoyed the night. The evening, however, was great fun. So nice to go for dinner with friends and see a fun show and then go for dessert after the show. We felt like grown-ups.

Oh, and this is the first of my intended 40 theatrical or arts events of the year!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

A New Year - 2012

So, first of all, I will work on my weight and fitness. My extended family has a group of us working on this in 10 week chunks. We check in via email and we did one leading up to New Years. I did okay - losing 10.3 lbs and then gaining a bit of that back over Christmas (sigh). I am down 8 lbs from that starting point. I like the 10 week chunks of time and plan to make 10 lbs per 10 weeks my goal. I like the 10 weeks because it means I can 're-new' my plan every ten weeks and not let it get lost in the busy of my life. I do find that I do much worse when I have the kids home so hopefully when they go back to school on Monday I can get back on track. Recovering from Christmas et al has been a challenge.

Second is my theatrical goal. I plan on seeing a minimum of 40 theatre or arts events this year. I actually think that is lower than what I want, but manageable. I have never kept track before so I may find that after this year I will up that total! The way I see it, that is only 3-4 events per month and that hardly sounds difficult! The hardest part will be when I am in rehearsal for Nine, because I know that my instincts will be to stay home on the nights off from rehearsal. This month I am starting out with Beauty & the Beast (Broadway Across Canada), and I hope to make it to the Canoe Festival (Workshop West). Surreal SoReal has Big Shot, and I have my ear to the ground for other shows to see. Next month is a lot more dense but I also have a show opening so I have to get to them when I can! Anyhow, I am excited about this goal!

Third is my writing goal. I want to write more. I am determined to have a script finished to submit to the APN Competition in March. This might just be the matter of choosing which to work on and dedicate time to.

That's enough for goals for now. I also want to sort out what exactly I am doing with my education at the University of Alberta. Something is holding me back from dropping Drama 240, but I am pretty sure I need to as I do not think I can handle 2 classes and I think Drama 409 is a better fit for what I want to get out of the experience. I think I need to sleep on it.

Monday, January 02, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I spent a little time thinking back to the past year and the theatre I saw and what stood out for me as wonderful moments of theatre in Edmonton. I figured if they resonated with me for so long than they were worth noting. That is not to say there weren't other wonderful moments, these are just those that 'popped' for me in retrospect... I tweeted them one by one and thought I would collate them here for the blog.

In no particular order

* Festus (Chris Bullough), Andrew Aguecheek (John Kirkpatrick) & Sir Toby Belch (John Wright) 'partying' in Twelfth Night - Freewill Players - I have special fondness for the Andrew Aguecheek dance which made tears roll down my cheeks!

* Holding my breath through the entire hour of (Real) Gone (Girl) at The Edmonton International Fringe 2011. This despite having woman have a seizure right behind me. I so wished I had the luxury of time so that I could go and see this show more than once.

* Boygroove produced by Impulse Theatre at the Catalyst - Best Musical of the season! I was blown away by this production. I had seen the show before but the combination of vocals, dancing, excellent direction and outstanding acting chops made this an incredible experience.

* The magic of Penny Plain and Ronnie Burkett at The Citadel. I forgot they were puppets.

* Nicola Elbro in Doubt at U of A (MFA Thesis show at Timm's) - brilliant! She embodied the internal tug of war required for this part. I think I could watch her in anything.

* Singing Sondheim with the cast of A Little Night Music (personal fave) - I will always look back at this show with fond memories, but what a joy to sing Sondheim and in particular singing A Little Death with the lovely Miss Stephanie Wigston was such a gift.

* John Kirkpatrick in How I Learned to Drive at U of A (MFA - Media Room Show) - creepy, and fantastic. Few actors are able to be both creepy and charismatic and play this role. Kirkpatrick was perfect!

* Finally seeing Wicked!!! Broadway Across Canada at the Jube. One of my favorite shows and it took me awhile to actually see it. The Alphaba was amazing. I wore pink to the show but wished I was in green!

* Crying through most of act 2 of Bare at the The Edmonton International Fringe 2011. A 2 hour musical in the hottest venue at the Fringe. I picked the right showing (an overcast 12 noon show) so I escaped the worst of the heat, but these guys did a fabulous job. Kayla Gorman, Sarah Horsman, Matthew Lindholm, Eric Wigston and Jeff Rivet were amazing!

* Going to Rocky Horror at The Citadel with the perfect seat partner, Mommamammoth! Not only was this show done perfectly (Camp done right! Huzzah!), but I took a good friend who was a Rocky-Virgin and it was the best person to be sitting there. Her enthusiasm was infectious and added to the experience. Also, the Citadel's selected audience participation was just the right amount. Inspired!

* Last 10 minutes of This is What Happens Next at The Citadel with Daniel MacIvor. I enjoyed the whole show but it was the last 10 minutes that hit my heart and made me cry. A brilliant performer and a wonderful story.

* Erika Noot as Roxie Hart in Chicago (TwoOneWayTixtoBroadway). There were lots of great things about this show, but Erika stood out as the blonde mercenary Roxie. Tough to please me when I have seen the show 4 other times, but I saw some new things with Erika's performance!

* The Tudor Queens at The Edmonton International Fringe 2011. I didn't know what to expect. I had such a blast. Not sure why Burlesque and Henry's wives were a good fit, but they were!

* Rabbit Hole at Walterdale Theatre. I worked so hard and was so proud of what we built. A true family and an experience I will never forget.

* Death of a Salesman at The Citadel. Truly a wonderful production. Everyone onstage was clearly supporting each other and it was lovely.

* Pieces at The Edmonton International Fringe 2011. I could not ask for more than what this experience was for me. I loved my cast. I loved the response from critics and audiences. It made for a lovely Fringe for me.