Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Ghosts and riddles at Laurier House

In Theatre on October 29, 2010 at 3:37 am

Seem to be on an oddly fixed schedule these days…Wednesday nite, class.  Thursday nite, play.  Not that that’s a BAD schedule, oh no.  And yesterday was a great class, so I was hoping that would hold out for tonite’s play as well.  One I’d been muchly looking forward to, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, a Jeffrey Hatcher play based on the classic Henry James novella.  Now, being a relatively unlearned clod, I have not read said novel.  But I understood in advance it was a bit of a ghost story.  AND it was being performed in grand old Laurier House, a heritage building with stories of actual hauntings surrounding it.  Throw in the time of year, and who else thinks we have a recipe for good chills?  I even got a few before the show started…some joker actually showed up in a Denis Armstrong costume.  Terrifying!  I can still see those cold, dead eyes…

Brr.  Moving on…the show was directed by fringe ninja and Gruppo Rubato maestro Patrick Gauthier, from whom I have seen two previous shows, and they both rocked (that’d be AIRPORT SECURITY and SOMEONE FOR EVERYONE, by the by).   Now, since this was a Victorian-era tale, I couldn’t reasonably expect Gauthier’s two-for-two track record of getting one of his leading ladies into her underwear during the show to continue this time around, but I was still willing to give it a watch.   As ever, I am willing to suffer for theatre.

But there’s little suffering to be found here, especially with two thumpingly adorable leads such as Kate Smith and Kris Joseph commanding the stage (or, as the case is here, the tiny antique room/staircase).  Kate plays our heroine, the plucky governess who lands a slightly tweaked dream job for a handsome stranger (Kris Joseph), as governess to his niece Flora and nephew Miles(Kris Joseph) at the mysterious, isolated Bly House.  Aided only by the loyal Mrs. Grose (Kris Joseph),  the governess contends with all manners of shades, spirits, spooky noises (Kris Joseph)  in her stalwart efforts to do her duty, and allow her remarkability to be remarked upon by others.  The space lends itself perfectly to the story, the occasional musical accompaniment (Kris Joseph, AGAIN) works like gangbusters, costumes are lovely…and I swear, I kept seeing weird shadows from nowhere all through the show.  I admit, it kinda spooked me…although to be fair, that might just have been because Armstrong was in the row behind me.

As you may have gleaned, Kris Joseph has a fair few onstage duties in this show, and happily, he’s a supahstar in every one.  On top of everything just mentioned (and yes, he really DOES do the music and sound effects), I believe he’s the narrator as well.  I love an overachiever…except, of course, Joseph manages to achieve all that he goes for here.  And Kate Smith, who is perfectly goddamned radiant up there as the enigmatic lead in what turns out to be a VERY ambiguous work, is just marvelous at every twisted turn.   I’m often and repeatedly amazed at the kind of talent floating around this town.  Hell, this is the fifth piece I’ve seen Smith in, and she’s still knocking me out.  Keep it coming.

Awesomeness, 1800's style.

It’s an unmissable show, with a fantastic cast, by a great director, in an incredible venue.  And the room only seats thirty, so don’t be shy about ordering those tickets, folks!   Hell, I might try and see it again myself.  Good, good times.  And, for the record..?  There’s nothing WRONG with being aversion, some of my best friends are…oh, never mind.  Just see the show, dig?  Love, peace and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

6th Class – A cat is not a fruit

In OSSD Acting Class on October 28, 2010 at 8:14 pm

So the election is over, thank Heavens.  Nothing more boring than democracy, I tell ya!  Ottawa, it turns out, went and booted its resident shitty mayor out of office, and brought back another, slightly-less-shitty one to replace him.  Pity…I’d been hoping self-styled senior rookie Julio Pita would pull off a miracle, sneak in on his ‘abolish unions’ platform, and finally have the chance to turn Lansdowne into a world-class soccer pitch/dance hall for seniors/portrait gallery (seriously, read his manifesto if you can find a copy, it’s comedy gold).   At least Toronto had the good entertainment sense to elect a frothing-at-the-mouth nazi rageaholic as THEIR mayor/fuhrer, whose antics I will be sure to enjoy from the minimum safe distance.

But politics away, there’s acting-type stuff to get to!  Yesterday was the sixth week of my now quite beloved acting course at the OSSD, and I made my usual keener error of getting there early.  Early now means I get to be the one who scavenges for seats from various parts of the building.  Hard to know exactly how many to get, as the number in the class seems to vary week to week.  I’m pretty sure we’re permanently down two students (who have both now missed three weeks), and besides them one other was absent this time.  We kicked off like usual, everyone looking a little more familiar and comfy with the startup routines.  Then Boss Karp got us doing some random improv, pairing up by chance and just doing a bit…sometimes he’d feed us an opening line or whatever.  David and I had a good one about hippies vs. squares.

Then we settled into groups of two for some more of the same, then groups of four.  We were just starting to work on a larger improved scene when the class was interrupted for a special announcement.  As a fundraiser for the school, pro photog Alan Dean made his services available to take a few headshots of willing students, to be available for later purchase.  Myself and two of the gals signed up and went to get snapped.  It was a fun little session…short, as we WERE cutting in to class time, but very cool.  Dean knows his stuff, and I’m kinda stoked to see what my shots look like.

Ran back to class one the maestro was done, just in time to join Sabrina, Julia and Erik in a scene they’d already started prepping, something based on America’s Next Top Model.  Oddly when we took our turn, almost nothing that we prepped actually made it IN, and we just winged the whole thing (but, kind of the point, no..?).  Had a blast as model Sissi, trying to out-banana Julia’s Buffy in a fruit-themed photoshoot (I later invented the cat-apple, and had an impromptu slapfight with Erik…goodfun!).

Breaktime then, and today I noticed that there was much more chitchat between the class during our little recess than previously…I think the step into improv has really gotten a little bonding going here, which is about time.  I likes my classmates, I do, I do.

When we got back, we spent pretty much the remainder of class working on a solo scene that Barry walked us through.  We were seated at a posh restaurant, enjoying our meal when in walks in the most beautiful person we’ve ever seen, the lust-object of our dreams.  Slowly, we see this dreamboat looking over at us, making eye contact, then slowly coming our way, tension rising…and shit, but this acting is a tricky bizness!  We practiced it for a while before the Boss set us up to perform it in groups of four at a time.  Trying to convey all that information without words…dang, like I needed MORE respect for real actors.  I was trying to be as physical as I could, Mr.Bean that shit up a little…hopefully I at least looked funny.

Last bit was another improv where we imagined our dream teaching job, and getting carried away at it.   All about the tension, ramping it up, and up, and UP…and then release.  Apparently we’re revisiting it next week, but with gibberish?  Sounds odd, but I trust Boss Karp.  We broke with instructions to people-watch during the week,and the promise of an animal-themed class next time.  Joy!  Catherine drove me away once again, my usual post-class high as high as ever.  Really gotta get some of the gang out with me after one of these days.  Maybe I’ll make that my personal project for next week.

Oh, and a quick update on Winston the cat, my current flatmate.  He’s still here, still shedding, and has now had a few kitty-sickie moments.  Nothing too bad, he cleans up easy enough (and that coat needed a wash anyhow).  He’s still greedy for laptime (I’m writing this around him even now), and making many pees and poos.  Just like a good kitty should.

The Visitor (and Winston)

PS  Next week is ‘take a friend to class’ week at the OSSD.  Anyone want to come along and watch me make a fool of myself?  Now accepting applicants.

Koensgen: Vampire Slayer

In Theatre on October 23, 2010 at 1:29 am

New day, new play…it’s a busy time in Ottawa’s small but mighty theatre community, and no fooling.   There was quite a variety to choose from this Thursday, but I was off to the Cube Gallery (yay, an interesting space!) for the premiere of New Theatre of Ottawa’s production of ST.NICHOLAS by Conor McPherson.  I’ve seen one McPherson bit before, last year when SevenThirty put on his SHINING CITY at Arts Court.  That was a wicked little slice of Irish creepiness, so I had some good hopes for this’un, a vampire tale.  Which reminds me, do you know what I’m absolutely fucking sick of..?  God-damned Vampires.

Sorry, Grampa. You know it’s not your fault, right?

I mean, sure I put in my time with BUFFY and ANGEL back in the day, and I made it through unscathed.  But I’m DONE.  We’re now in the era of Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Emo Menstrual Bromance, Kiss Me I’m a Vampire, and whatEVER the hell else the yawning spawn of Anne  Rice are putting through the hack grinder and spewing out all over innocent teevee screens everywhere these days.  The last thing I want to see on a stage is some generic, no-brainer prettyboy with bad fangs story.

Thankfully, this was NOT that.

ST.NICHOLAS is a one man show in two acts, starring one of the heavyweights of the Ottawa scene, John Koensgen.  Just this year I’ve already seen him in EDUCATING RITA and BLACKBIRD, so I pretty much knew I was in good hands.  And what a great role for him to dig his considerable chops into, sauntering out onto the stage as a drunken misanthrope of a theatre critic, awash with his own sense of importance, and bitter about his complete inability to relate to any-fucking-one, family included.  He swaggers through the story of his rise to power, and immediate abuse of said power.  It’s a smart and funny script, and John K gets every raucous laugh out of it.  You almost don’t notice the dark turns when they approach..and they do.

The ‘vampire’ action kicks in in act two…it involves a beautiful girl our alcoholic anti-hero falls for, and his rash pursuit leads him to a chance encounter with…well, take a wild guess.  Koensgen guides you along the strange road with wit and gusto, and it’s always a pleasure to watch him work.   Although one of these days, I’d actually like to see him play a character who’s NOT a complete miserable prick…but then again, he does it so WELL…

It was a good opening night (free wine and cheese, score!), and afterwards I got to join the Thornhill Mob for a quick drink at the Carleton Tavern before retiring for the evening.  Pardon for not having this report up yester, but I was all sleepy.  And it would have been up about two hours ago, but Winston the Cat decided he really, really needed a good hour and a half nap on my lap this evening.  Thank Goodness I had the new season of FUTURAMA downloaded to amuse myself while I waited for him to have his fill.  He’s back again now, actually, but I’ve learned to type around him.  It’s tricky work.

…where was I?  Oh yeah…ST.NICHOLAS.  Great dark fun, go see it, and tell gentleman Johnny K that the Visitor sent ya.  Peace and soul, you creatures of the night,

The Visitor (and Winston)

5th Class -Halfway There

In OSSD Acting Class on October 21, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Class number five…shit, we’re halfway done!    And I’m still having a blast.  It’s nice to be looking forward to hump day for reasons BESIDES new comic books, ya know?

...although KICK-ASS 2 started this week, and you should totally get that, for serious.

So I hauled my sore bones out to the OSSD, schmoozed a bit with Boss Karp about the HAMLET (solo) show we both saw last week (so very awesome), then shuffled in to the room.  We were back where we started this week in the Nathalie Stern studio, which is fine enough…a room’s a room, no?   A couple of the lads were still missing this week, here’s hoping all is well.   We did the usual warm-ups, then dug right in with a little mirror-gaming.  I paired up with Erik for that one, and it was fairly neat.  I noticed after a little while aping each other I couldn’t tell at times which of us was ‘leading’…it just felt like we were getting it a little.  Also, whatEVER we were doing, the girls couldn’t stop laughing at us.  And I, of course, live to entertain.

Did a quick bit where we had to try and ‘feel’ a sudden change in temperature…I kept closing my eyes, which was a no-no, but I think I at least got what he was saying.  I’ll just have to practice, like, LOTS to make it work.  Then we had a very fun bit trying to have a conversation with someone, each only using the same single word. We started of with ‘yes’, then switched to different ones as Barry commanded.  Me and Catherine (hiya Annie!) had a very pleasant conversation, I’m happy to say.

After a brief, often hilariously inept attempt to join together and create creatures with x number of feet and hands in rapid succession, we broke for some storytime.  Barry told us an ancient native tale using a cool homemade storybox, then sat us around in a tight little circle to share nursery rhymes.  The gimmick being, we had to first tell one person, then keep on repeating the story for a larger and larger audience.  I quite enjoyed my turn with ‘Jack and Jill’, and honestly have no idea when I ever got comfortable with the idea of talking in front of people.  It’s a little weird.  But I had a lotta fun.

We ended up with some smaller groups, first telling one another a story from our family’s past…I rambled off a half-imagined story about my Grampa working lumber back in the 30’s…then inventing a story as a group, one person to the next.  I started our group off with robots landing on the moon ten thousand years ago, and think we went quite admirably from there.

That was it for class, and the first half of this course, even. Left in my usual high, and Catherine gave me a lift to the Carleton for my journalizing and quarts of 50.  A good day, a good class…here’s to the second half!  Peace and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Launching to the Ball

In Theatre on October 19, 2010 at 11:20 pm

One exciting day yesterday, folks, DAMNED exciting!  SO exciting, I’m not even going to bother telling you about how I bruised my ribs at a punk show on the weekend, or that hundred dollar lapdance I got just before.  You don’t want to hear THAT boring drivel, you’re here for the good stuff…local independant theatre!

Fuck Yeah!

Following a particularly un-exciting day of drudgery, I schlepped across town to fashionable Hintonburg and the GCTC, where the media launch was taking place for the hotly-anticipated (by me) UNDERCURRENTS festival, coming this January/February.  For some reason, they let ME in there, and I was more than willing to take advantage (personally, I think they just knew I’d be willing to pay for beer, but whatever…).  I’ll forego my usual name-dropping here for the sake of brevity, suffice to say that OMG THERES ALL SORTZ OF FAMOUSPEEPS HERE!!! *sigh*  Your visitor was in geek-heaven, folks, and some people even TALKED to me.  I’m not lying, it’s true!  And taller-even-than-me GCTC marketing man Kevin Falkingham even saw fit to give yours truly a media kit for the launch!  I tell ya, I was feeling like three different kinds of big-shot right then.

Fringe ninja Pat Gauthier then took to the makeshift stage and got things underway, officially announcing the lineup of six shows for the inaugural festival.  Three shows a week, each show gets four runs, two weeks total.  Short but very, very sweet.  the lineup is:

SHADOWS by Margo MacDonald.  Yes, the sellout boss of this year’s fringe gets another chance to impress Ottawa, with Margo Mac and Sarah Finn returning to shine up the stage with their awesomeness.  Don’t miss it THIS time around.

HARD WAYS by Jason Cadieux, a one-manner about a man trapped by airport security with a wad of cash, trying to talk himself out.  And you know I like me a one-man show.

BIFURCATE ME by Julie leGal, Andy Massingham and Kevin Orr.A play described as a ‘theatrical drug trial’, which pretty much already has me sold.

SPENT by Dean Gilmour, Adam Paolozza, Ravi Jain and Michele Smith.  A fast-paced tale about two high-test execs who wake up one morning to find out they’re lost it all.  Hard to resist, really…

MY PREGNANT BROTHER by Johanne Nutter.  Gauthier gushed pretty earnestly about this play that he saw in Montreal, and his word should be good enough for the likes of you!  And to finish…

THIS IS A RECORDING by Kelly Rigole and Simon Bradshaw.  I’m SO stoked that this gem from the ’09 Fringe Fest is getting another run.  I’ll be seeing it at least one more time, and you’d be nuts to skip it.

You can peek at more info and the full schedule with prices at the official GCTC site, but this is all just a huge win for Ottawa.  Festivals are fun for theatre, period.  We need more of them, as I seem to recall vaguely discussing with Wayne at the launch.  I say ‘vaguely’ because by the time Pat left the stage and we all started milling about, I was on my 4th beer and it wasn’t even seven pm, and the night was nowhere near over!

No, because now was the time to leave this pastoral atmosphere and jet back downtown, to everyone’s fav’rit theatrical setting, the Montgomery Legion Hall!  Which means a) more drinking, naturally, and b) it’s time for the WRECKING BALL.  The Ball is a tradition started in 04 in TO, according to the program, an effort to get some politics in our theatre, instead of vice versa.  It’s intentionally last-minute in nature, to make things more exciting and keep it all nice and fresh.  I managed to get there in time to snag a primo chaise up front, and ended up chatting with one of the performers, singer Dave Tough.  A charming guitaring gent indeed, he performed two songs over the evening, and was pretty supoib if I do say so.  Mighty Tania Levy had a great storybook skewering of our transit woes to start the evening off, and a mini-SOMEONE FOR EVERYONE reunion had Cat Leger, Sarah Finn and Geoff McBride with a loverly look at a certain special kind of theatre.  And dynamite St.Vincent dePaul costumes, too.

More musical interludes, from the great Todd Duckworth, Glenn Nuotio and his happenin’ keyboard, and Dennis van Staalduinen with his ‘light rail trilogy’, apparently beloved by Mayor Larry himself!  My own personal highlight may have been when Pierre Brault (who blew me away in PORTRAIT OF AN UNIDENTIFIED MAN, and soon will again in THE SHADOW CUTTERS) performed his one-man ‘Foregone Conclusion 2010′, mimicking a variety of characters in perfect succession, from Larry to Jim Watson, Adrian Harewood to Oni the Haitian Sensation (and hells yeah I was right there with the finger-snapping!  That’s how quick a spoken-word convert I am!  BOOM!).  Brault returned to the stage for the finale, along with Kris Joseph, Todd Duckworth, Andy Massingham and Alix Sideris for their mayoral Dating Game, which was too much fuckin’ fun.

Kudos to Joseph and the others for writing these pieces in such short order, because they were all pretty damn fine.  And all for a few good causes to boot, the Actors Fund of Canada, and Doctors Without Borders.  I’ll drink to that!  And, oh, did I ever…

A quiet day today, relaxing afore comic and acting class day tomorrow, a new show to see on Thursday, maybe Friday too.  I like having things to do, it’s a nice feeling.  And I’ll get back to the name dropping next time, promise.  Because, just like a shiny new media kit, it makes me feel like a big shot.  Peace and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Hamlet (solo)

In Theatre on October 16, 2010 at 3:51 am

It may sound surprising to you, but the highlight of my day today was NOT picking up the first season box set of THE SWEENEY (tho you’d be forgiven for thinking that).  That was a close second, but first was by far and away catching opening night of HAMLET (solo) at the GCTC.  Set up on a special 3-day run as a benefit for the Shannon Reynolds memorial fund, it’s a show that must be seen to be believed.  In fact, let’s shorten that a bit…it’s a show that must be seen.

Starring the bafflingly good Raoul Bhaneja as, as the title implies, every damn character in Shakespeare’s HAMLET from beginning to end, without the benefit of lighting effects, set, costume changes or props…just himself and his giddy talent alone on a bare stage for 2 hours, plus intermission.  Raoul moves flawlessly from character to character, scene to scene, ignoring numerous theatrical conventions along the way to everyone’s delight.  He seems especially good at bringing out the rich, ribald humour peppered throughout even the darkest of Zombie Bill’s works.  But his dramatics are equally good…he commands attention with nothing more than a lingering breath.  Basically, he’s a magnificent bloody bastard and he’s what I want to be when I grow up.

There was a great turnout for opening night…I did lots of peep-spotting in the crowd.  Nadine Thornhill two nights in a row?  I am charmed.  And hey, Winston’s Mom was there, yay!  Wayne C, Sterling Lynch, tweedy old Snowdon…but my fav’rit was when I met up with my acting prof Barry Karp.   Raoul had been a student of his once upon a time, and I could see the proud twinkle in his eye.  He told me to keep on practicing my movements at home, and believe me, coach, I will.  nothing like inspiration, hey?
As for the rest of you, get to work.  Cancel those plans, bribe some babysitters, see your loan shark, do what you’ve got to DO…you have two more shows, Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm…get thee to the GCTC, and catch this brilliant slice of one-man awesomeness.  It’s what theatre is all about.  Peace,

the Visitor (and Winston)

PS: Third runner-up for highlight of the day?  Drinking quarts of 50 and reading TUROK SON OF STONE and MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER comix at the Carleton Tavern before the show.  Life, sometimes, is sweet.

Mighty Words, Mighty Nerds

In Theatre on October 15, 2010 at 3:46 am

A two for one chudpost today, fans of sense and spectacle!  Yes, your ever-loving brown-eyed Visitor is learning to multitask…or, at least, do two things one after the other, with long gaps in between.  It’s a start, okay?

First up was my first, and sad to say likely ONLY foray into this years Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, taking place right here in Ottawa.  My week is just oddly booked up, and I had to get creative to even make THIS event, but how would I ever be able to look Jessica Ruano in the eye again if I didn’t at least try?  Besides, for a newbie like me to spoken word and slam poetry, this one sounded like a good start…the Steve Sauve Memorial Nerd Showcase.  I hit Cooper and Elgin, having glanced at the directions to the venue once a couple of days earlier…I remembered it was at a hotel, on Cooper, East of Elgin.  Imagine my surprise when I noticed there were about half a dozen hotels in that span!  And naturally, I couldn’t remember the name  So,I did the only thing I could think of to find a poetry slam under such circumstances…I walked up and down the block, and kept my eyes peeled for hipsters.  And before you laugh or deride me for indulging in harmful stereotypes, I should tell you it worked like a charm.  Venue…found.  Thanks, hipsters!

Got my hunch confirmed in the lobby with the lovely sight of Nadine Thornhill, along with her poet-partner for the event Bart Cormier, practicing what would be their epic magnificently self-referential meta-slam poem in a few short moments.  I chatted for a moment, then wended my way to the back room for the event.    A decently sizable crowd…good news.

Now, I’m too new into this scene to be familiar with the poetic-nerd legend that is Steve Sauve…and, well, for better or for worse, I wouldn’t really get any MORE familiar with him over this event, aside from hearing a few of his pieces.  Whatever his story is, it was pretty much taken for granted among this crowd that everyone there probably already knew it.  It takes a lot to make me feel like even more of an outsider than usual, but I was feeling pretty out of my depth as things first got underway and everyone else already knew all the words to just about EVERYthing.  Not that everyone wasn’t awesome and friendly, but…I don’t think it ever occurred to any of the organizers that someone who wasn’t personally knowledgeable of Steve Sauve would actually show UP.  Which is fair enough reasoning, actually…

But not to worry, I got my head out of my ass in short order and started to feel much, much cozier as the main attractions Nadine and Bart (after a lovely starter from a poet name of Tristan, awesome) took the stage, alternately performing solo or teaming up on one nerd-tastic slam after another.  Nadine’s heady mix of defiance and geekiness is a grand thing to witness live, and Cormier tore it up with his own odes to the nerdclass with gusto.  They rocked the joint.  I wanted more.  I happily got just that when they threw the floor open to everyone else, who nailed one wicked poem after another, from fanatical fawnings over Natalie Portman, musings on the nature of sexuality (a lot of that actually…nerds be horny, yo!), a wonderfully Joycean essay with words like ‘Individualismists’ being tossed about, and a rant or two for good measure.  In all, they were smart, funny, sexy, friendly, inspiring, and…okay, I’ll say it.  They were adorkable.  Great, now I owe Thornhill royalty money.

Oh, and nerd girls are CUTE.  just sayin’.

So with one event down and one to go, I bolted for some quick nosh before making my way to Arts Court for the second half of the evening, PEN Canada’s TAXI STAND JAM.  Organized by a group that works for writers around the globe who have been bullied, harassed, silenced, jailed or worse, the concept for the Jam was a cool one.  Take seven artists, seven writers, pair them up and give them seven hours to come up with a seven minute piece based on a quote they were given that day.  Who can resist?
CBC’s Adrian Harewood emceed the event, introducing the pairings.  First up was the amazing Miss Emily Pearlman, teaming with Colombian writer Alvaro Gomez.  Gomez was surprisingly wunnerful on stage, doing some nice scenery chewing alongside miss Emily as they did their quick but dandy piece.  Now, I’m having trouble matching ALL the names to faces from memory, but here’s what stands out:  Eepmon’s hastily constructed wall of words and paint;  Sheng Xue’s elegant words and poise paired with Mel M’Rabet’s stylings on the Oud;  Oni the Haitian Sensation’s voice, that nearly broke down the walls in Arts Court; Phil Jenkins and Petronila Cleto in a positively gorgeous musical/poetic team-up; and the unexpected but wonderful closing mini-concert from Said Mushfiq Hashimi, who would be right at home in a Bollywood epic.  It was a terrific night full of all sorts of stuff that you just don’t get to SEE.  I was pretty lucky…it was my second dose of great new stuff in the same day.  And after it was all done, I came home to kitty snuggles, and some Night of Dreams tea.  That’s good eatin, right there.

Okay, so no funny pictures in this one, and I was rushing it at the end…sorry, tired.  And I have to get this finished tonite, because tomorrow it’s HAMLET (solo) at the GCTC.  See you there, won’t I..?  And if not, hit up some CFSW for me!!  Later, nerds,

The Visitor (and Winston)

4th Class – It’s better with Masks

In OSSD Acting Class on October 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Well, another week, another class down at the OSSD.  I’m already starting to dread December, when the course will be over and I’ll go back to (pardon the all-too accurate pun) having no class.  But that’s a bit of a half-empty way of looking at it, I suppose.  Let’s dig on the full part for the moment:

Got to class in good time, after a pleasant day off involving breakfast at Ada’s diner and fun new comix (also the new BEST OF SOUL TRAIN dvd, which is fifteen different kinds of amazing).  Was pleased to see a couple of the ladies, who’d missed a class or two, back for this one…although no less than three of the guys were absent!   Tho real life DOES intrude from time to time, hey?  So just an even dozen of us this class along with cool boss Barry Karp.  He ran us through our warmups…I think I’m getting better at some of the mimes…and then a refresher on the seven stages of movement.  And then…THEN…we got to do it with the masks on.  And not just any old Frankenstein halloween mask (like the one I was goofing around my apartment with the other night, rather irking Winston) neither.  These were proper theatrical masks, hand made from leather, by the master Sartori.  Barry speaks of Sartori the way internet geeks talk about Joss Whedon or Warren Ellis, and the awe here is well-earned.

We lined up in groups of four (I was in the first group), masked up, and Barry set about getting us into neutral, literally.  It was a frankly amazing experience…I could feel, standing there, every little imperfection in the WAY I stood, every flaw in my body and pretty much all the damage I’d done to it over the years.  And boy, it’ll take some doing to get this shit put right.  But Barry was supportive…he said he could see my aura!  Which was apparently a good thing.  When we were deemed ready, we did a walk of the room, moving from the first stage (drunk and loose) to the seventh (scared stiff), and then returned the opposite way down the scale.  I kept getting confused about the order of a few in the middle (self, THEN neutral?  Dammit…) and overthinking things, but overall I think I had a good run.  The others had their go afterwards…one lady, Barbara, I thought did fantastic, on what was only her second time in the class.

After a break, we came back and had a quick game, then some two-team competition charades.  We tied, tho I’m happy to say I nabbed two points for my team, the Maniacs of Arizona, with my dramatic interpretation of both a birdcage AND flashlight batteries.

We finished off with some fighting fun, pairing off and working out a five action/reaction slow-mo fight scene.   Me and Stefan had a nicely flowing punchup, that basically went slap, slap, gutshot, knee to the face, double haymaker and OUT.  Seriously, if school had been like this back in the day, I would have had a MUCH better time.

Class ended all too soon once again, and I shlepped home  (after a pitstop at the Carleton) to check in on my flatmate of one whole week now, Winston the cat.  He seems to be acclimating well enough…he’s started occasionally sleeping in his bed…

…and he fits just so in the palm of one’s hand…

…and boy, Nancy wasn’t kidding about his greed for the snuggles.  I’m amazed he’s actually letting me write this!  Must still be tuckered out from the last epic purr-fest.  I should point out that, as I started reading his Mom’s latest post, he jumped quickly up on my lap, I assume to see if he was mentioned (he was).  That made him quite content.  He has since retreated to stare at my shoes, and lick the bag the SOUL TRAIN discs came in.  Kind of  a weird cat, really.  Good weird.

Plenty going on in O-town this week, hope to see y’all out at some of it.  Peace and Soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Here with YOU ARE HERE

In Theatre on October 9, 2010 at 3:41 am

Been a little anxious the last few days…not that they haven’t been eventful enough.  Certainly, the temporary adoption of Winston the Cat is enough event for ANY week.  And the little bundle of fluff is making himself nicely at home.  He’s all down with the eating and the pooping in the right places already, and damned if he doesn’t love a good scratching.  So like I say…eventful.

But, it had been what seems to me like a long time since I saw me some play (how quickly I’ve spoiled myself on that note).  Heck, the last show I saw was a repeat of THE LIST during my volunteer shift more than a week ago!  So I was more than ready for some new stuffs when I made my way out to Algonquin campus for the May Can Theatre production of Daniel MacIvor’s YOU ARE HERE.  I really didn’t know anything about the production…shit, I couldn’t even remember who it was invited me to it on Facebook.  But I knew it was a MacIvor piece, and having already seen Fringe productions of his excellent THIS IS A PLAY and WILD ABANDON, I was eager and ready for some more.  So I made my way thru the maze of the ‘Gonq campus, found building N, and hit up the theatre.  The Studio Arts Theatre, if memory serves, and from the temperature I can only assume it’s where college officials keep the bodies of their enemies during regular hours.  A MITE chilly.  But like I always say, one must suffer for art, even someone else’s.

The show started, and I was quite delighted to see a familiar face taking the stage.  I’d seen the lady Jenny David (not Davis, as I rather stunningly dumbly posted first…thanks to Lisa for correcting me)  earlier this year in the great L’ASCENSEUR at the Youth Infringement Festival (caught it twice, in fact), and was suitably impressed back then.  Today, I saw her take hold of the lead in a two-hour MacIvor play, and want to say two things right off the bat…1) Jenny David is fucking amazing, and  2) I really, REALLY want to see her in a comedy.    And with that out of the way, on with the show:
The story revolves around the life of Alison, a journalist who is maybe a little too cynical for her own good, and the path her aspirations, friendships, romances, tragedies and just plain dumb luck takes her on.  She meets a variety of sordid characters, from vain actresses to drugged-up gigolos, self-absorbed artists to her arch-enemy Connie Hoy.  Her only reassuring constant seems to be her lifelong friend Richard.  Played by Tony Adams, who also scored at Youth Infringement in SPEAKERS, Richard serves up most of the biggest laughs in the play, easily cracking the tension on the stage with only a well-placed word or two.  He and David make a pretty killer bee combo onstage, and there’s plenty of very solid supporting work alongside (Jake William Smith’s viciously sleazy Justin definitely comes to mind).  I have one or two minor quibbles with the production, and being a gentleman, I will do what any civilized individual SHOULD do with minor quibbles, and ignore the living shit out of them. What the fuck is a quibble anyhow??


From that STAR TREK episode, right?


YOU ARE HERE is a very, very good show, and as I write this there’s only ONE SHOW LEFT.   Whether it’s for MacIvor’s deft wordplay, the great-deal-ness of it (2 hours of live theatre for ten bucks?   You were only gonna buy crack anyway!), or for some amazing performances from what  may prove to be Ottawa’s best new up-and-coming actors (besides, of course, me and everyone else in my class…represent!), you owe it to yourself and your morally bankrupt God…get out there and SEE IT.  Saturday, 7:30, Building N at Algonquin college.  Bring ten bucks and a sweater and tell them the visitor sent you. Peace out, go Jenny David go,

the Visitor (and Winston)

3rd Class / Winston Checks In

In OSSD Acting Class, Theatre on October 8, 2010 at 12:51 am

As I was heading home from work tonite on the #14, I saw a pretty healthy crowd outside the Gladstone Theatre, waiting to be let in for A FLEA IN HER EAR.  I’m hoping that the news that the Gladstone has been placed on the market has rallied Ottawa theatre lovers to get out there and support some shows.  I know I don’t want to lose a great venue like the GS, especially not when I’ve only just really gotten IN to theatre.   But I digress (go Gladstone go!).

Yesterday was my third entry level acting class at the OSSD, and as always, I was wicked anxious.  A little more so this class, because I almost didn’t make it on time…more on that later.  As it happened, I was still the first to arrive, and helped prof Barry Karp set up the class (a new studio today) with some chairs and…well, more chairs.  The gang filtered in (it was a crappy night out), and I think I’ve just about got everyone’s real names now…David, Justin, Simon, Erik, Jefri, Julien, Helene, Sabrina, Julia, Katherine, Rachel, Stefan, and Vanessa.  Barry sat us around, ran us through our warm-ups and excercizes, showed us some insanely cool masks and told us an even cooler story about HIS encounters with some pretty powerful maskage indeed.  Then a little gameage, with two groups competing as we posed out various tableaux as Barry called them out.  I like to think we won the ‘Thanksgiving’ challenge because of my wonderful work as the turkey.

That's me in the middle.

After that, it was time for some HUGGING!  Seriously, we walked around made random eye contact, and just hugged.  It was, I believe, all about breaking down the natural barriers to having one’s ‘personal space’ invaded.  Later we did it with love songs.  Very cool.

But the big event of the class was learning and practicing THE SEVEN STAGES OF MOVEMENT.  A lot of this meant we got to stagger around like loons for great long periods of time, while a paid adult actually told us this was perfectly acceptable behaviour and we should just carry on.  God, I’m getting into this whole ‘acting’ thing!  But there were, of course, six OTHER bits we had to practice…I felt a little clumsy at the ‘graceful dancer’ bit, but quite enjoyed ‘neutral’ (which Barry stresses to us is kind of the crucial one).  We even have homework for next class…remind me, I need a two-minute story to tell people.  Something from me or my family and preferably not peppered with the word ‘fuck’ and lots of goofy pictures I don’t have the copyright to.  But I’ll be ready…wednesdays are the highlight of my week now.

Now, as to why I was almost late…here we must briefly peek into the strange, wonderful world of FamousActress NancyKenny (but not too long, or you’ll go mad).  As some of you may know, if you’re not actively repressing the information, Nancy is in the process of making tracks to Toronto, for the obviously ridiculous reason that it’s better than Ottawa in every measurable respect.  Phooey.  But, she needed someone to watch her beloved kitty Winston for a spell, while she gets adjusted, or whatnot.  Cat loving gentleman that I am, I offered my services.  A few days passed tho, and I figgered she had found someone else, and I went about my Visitorial duties as per usual.

This was premature.

Wednesday morning I was up oddly early for a day off, around six thirty.  I’d been abed early the day before, predictably because of a day-long hangover.  And the first thing I see on my ‘pooter when I get up is a message from the Nancy herself, asking if my catsitting offer is still good.  And so began a daylong race to clean/kittyproof my apartment, which had gotten quite bachelorific in the weeks now that I’ve been single again.  I think I managed okay, and even managed a quick race downtown for comix (no DOCTOR SOLAR?  For shame, Dark Horse, for shame).  Turns out, MsKenny was having a rather hectic day herself, what with packing and moving cities and having to schlep her kitty across town and into the hands of someone who is, and this is not lost on me, essentially almost a complete stranger.  Aside from a couple of brief beer tent run-ins at the Fringe, we’ve never really done any hanging out, and I can only imagine how reticent she must have been to leave her awesome kitty in the hands of someone whose greatest claim to fame so far is swearing on a theatre blog.  I don’t take the responsibility lightly, and will do my best to make sure the Winston is happy and well cared-for in my home.

"I think you'll find it's MY home now."

…yes  Yes, of course, sir.  I was just saying…*ahem*.  Anyways…Nancy and her ride arrived at about 5 minutes to six (about fifteen minutes before I HAD to leave for my class, because Nancy Kenny is such a committed actor she is literally incapable of doing anything in non-dramatic fashion), and we ferried Winston and his stuffs up to his new temporary digs.  He sadly committed what one might call the rude faux-pas of peeing on the aforementioned MsKenny in the car on the way over, but can you really fault him?  If you were being expelled from Nancy’s loving care, and into a pad with a skeevy guy like me, wouldn’t YOU be a little miffed too?  I mean, really, there are limits.

Now, apologies all around…I do tend to let my writing persona get away with me, and before I put my foot fatally in my mouth, I want to impart some ACTUAL information to Winston’s Mom:  We’re getting along just fine.  He spends SOME time hiding under my bed, but mostly comes out whenever I’m home, and he’s already been on my lap and everything.  I saw him eating a little food, given him some scratchin’, and tho there’s no poo YET, I have high hopes for tomorrow.  Absolutely no problems at all, and I think he’s really adjusting to being in my…

"Did I say you could leave your shoes here?"

…sir, no sir!  I’ll move them right…just, just let me hit ‘publish’ and…it’s good, it’s all good!  Look, let me get the toy mouse…see you all later,

The Visitor (and Winston)

(ps: oh shit, he’s using his scratching post RIGHTNOW!  So cute…)