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Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Lavender Railroad – Preview!

In Evolution Theatre on April 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Okay, so it turns out I can be a bit of a pest.  I can whine and tagalong with the best of them, and you better believe I can feel sorry for myself.  Sometimes, I can EVEN go moaning to poor Nancy Kenny that ‘how come you don’t invite ME to your media calls for Evolution Theatre?  I’m sorta-kinda media!’  Looking back, I can see that this sort of behaviour on my part is childish, annoying, and 100% effective.  The latest media call went out, and there I was!  Looks like I really AM media now, whether I like it or not.  Here’s me trying now to act like it.

Now, you’d better believe I am stoked for the latest Evolution show.  They’ve got serious game, and their last show, LITTLE MARTYRS, is currently comfortably seated in my top two shows of the year so far.  And their latest offering, THE LAVENDER RAILROAD, comes with the kind of credentials shadowy government organizations only dream about.  Check it:
The acting teams are a tag-team of win, with two pairs of actors starring in each of the two back-to-back pieces that make up THE LAVENDER RAILROAD.  The first, SAFE HOUSE, stars Simon Bradshaw (This Is A Recording, Swimming in the Shallows) and Tom Charlebois (Shining City, A Flea in her Ear).  The second, EX CATHEDRA, has the amazing Beverly Wolfe (Jump) and Maureen Smith (Swimming in the Shallows).  I got to see part of a scene with Bev and Maureen acted out, and yeah, they’re gonna knock your socks off.

I'm a terrible photographer,but trust me, there's some serious glare going on here.

The play(s) are written by Lawrence Aronovitch, and take place in a world where homosexuality is punishable by death.  And as this is a ‘world’ that some people on Earth also call ‘Thursday’, I’d say it’s fairly relevant. Certainly these folks think so, and will even be there for a special talkback after the May 5th show.

Directing is Joel Beddows, who collects awards for his directing like other people collect stamps.  The set looks amazing, as it was on the day of my visit…Margaret Coderre-Williams has coaxed an awful lot of space out of old Leonard-Beaulne.  And the always amazing Lynn Cox and Al Connors (Cars!) are on light and sound, respectively, which is good hands to be in.

The show goes down at the aforementioned Studio Leonard-Beaulne (in the Ottawa U campus) from May 4th thru 14th, and performances are already selling out.  Check out Evolution’s website to buy tickets online for a very reasonable $25.  Or hit the pay-what-you-can matinee on Sunday the 8th. It’s all good.

And I haven’t even mentioned the front of house management…can you say handsome?  Oh, mercy (Note: Someone from Evolution, send me that e-mail soon, please!  Thanks!).

So, that’s me being all media-licious.  The show’s gonna be fantastic, I’m gonna be there, YOU’RE gonna be there, it’s all just so darned perfect, isn’t it?   Evolution Theatre.  LAVENDER RAILROAD.  ‘Nuff Said.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Another Election, Another Wreck

In Theatre on April 27, 2011 at 1:07 am

Ah, Democracy.  They say it’s the best system of government we’ve come up with so far…by which they mean, it sucks, and we’re working on it as fast as we can.  But in the meantime, there’s what we’ve got, and elections every now and then as a byproduct.  It’s all very wonderfully tedious, and it gives us the opportunity to flex our electoral musculature and vote for the wealthy white male of our choice to command us for the immediate future (really, it IS better than it sounds on paper).  More happily, it gives us an excuse to have another WRECKING BALL, to mock the living shit out of said process.

The Wrecking Ball is the name given to a series of political-themed rallies/variety shows held around the country nigh election time (our last one was just before the last Mayoral shindig here in town), and since the election is mighty nigh, it was time to saunter on down to the Montgomery Legion hall and see what our local talent had cooked up for this go-round.  The chosen performers only had 2 weeks to come up with something for the evening’s entertainment, but considering the talent they’d assembled, that was likely a week and a half longer than they needed.  I mean it, they had some powerhouses lined up for the evening.  You know who they had just working the door?  Nancy Kenny!  That’s like when the Justice Society had Wonder Woman as their secretary!

Only nowhere near as mind-bogglingly sexist.

Once inside, I even got allowed to sit at a grown-ups table, and what grown-ups!  The adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill, Richard Hemphill, Bronwyn Steinberg, Greg ‘Ritallin’ Frankson, Will Somers…perhaps they thought I was someone important!  I didn’t correct their mistake, basking in the coolness-by-association.  Shortly, the good times got underway, with Pat Gauthier and Pierre Brault sharing/fighting over hosting duties in admirable political fashion.  My galpal Nadine was up first after that, with a dandy zinger of a spoken-word bit called…

…ahh, never mind.  Just watch it for yourself, then turn green with envy ’cause I get to have lunch with this dynamo in a couple of days:

The evening kept on hitting hard after that, with musician extraordinaire Glenn Nuotio striking a blow for Feminism via Alanis, comic Don Kelly getting down for Aboriginal rights, and the unbeatable team of Kate Smith and Cat Leger (and okay, Pat Gauthier too) channeling Laureen Harper and Yoko Ono and, yes, if you weren’t there you damn well should have been.  Especially since next up was Todd Duckworth (whose rendition of ‘Love me I’m a Liberal’ was the hit of the LAST Wrecking Ball), and his new Phil Ochs-inspired ditty, Here’s to the State of Stephen Harper, brought the house down.

A wee intermission followed (and a couple more bottles of 50…this IS a legion hall), and when it was done, BOY was it done.  Ritallin took to the stage, and crushed it convincingly with a torrent of verse appropriately titled OUTRAGE.  Then came the return of Kate Smith, this time as beleaguered former Tory Helena Guergis in a Brault-penned bit that proves once again why Kate Smith is a theatrical force not to be trifled or messed with, only to be bowed down to and worshipped.  Awesome.

Some more music to round out the evening…a pair from Actor and recent Rideau Award-winner Paul Rainville, and a home-rum cabaret-style finale from Doreen Taylor-Claxton (accompanied by returning Glenn Nuotio).  If you listen, you can still hear the echoes…

It was a grand, fun night, and I even got a ride home and an invite to a media call out of the deal, so it doesn’t get much better in MY books.  I’m thankful I went out, saw some great theatre and heard some great words and songs that’ll be running thru my noodle for days and weeks to come.  And on Monday next, after work, I’m gonna line up, and I’m gonna vote.  And not because I’m terribly sentimental about the democratic process, or because I want to preserve my mythical ‘right to complain’ or anything like that.  No, I’ll be voting on May 2nd because John Baird is the Conservative MP in my riding.

And FUCK John Baird.

See how easy it is to find a reason?  Go vote.  You’ll feel all cool and stuff.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

What Does the Future Hold?

In Theatre on April 25, 2011 at 12:21 am

Made it out to a couple of shows this week, but only one is getting the post-y treatment, after much deliberation/more laziness.  But to be fair, one was still in super-secret ‘workshop’ format, and just getting the invite to the event was delight enough.  I’ll keep mum about what it was, and if you weren’t there, you should probably be thinking about what it is you did wrong.

The show I WILL talk about, tho, was just last night at my alma mater, the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  One I’d been much anticipating, as it was the latest pubic performance from Sanitas Playback Theatre, headed by my current teacher Brie Barker.  The show was titled, simply enough, STORIES OF LOVE and would be my first encounter with the form known as Playback Theatre, if not with love stories themselves.

TOTALLY just watched this on dvd tonite. No, I'm not crying, there's...there's something in my eye...

So after milling in the familiar lobby, meeting up with the ubiquitous Tim Oberholzer and classmate Rachel, we headed on in to find out, at least myself, what was about to happen.  Brie had talked up his company on a previous occasion, so I wasn’t totally flying blind, but close enough.   Which is, by the way, a fine way to experience ANY piece of theatre, and I highly recommend it.

Brie was the conductor’ for the evening, which we’ll get to in a moment. Paul Gareau was providing the music, and a trio of actors readied themselves for the (re-)telling of stories: Jen Vallance, Lucy Lu, and Mike Kosowan.  I’d seen Mike before in RED NOSES and a couple of Improv shows, and actually recently had the pleasure of meeting Jen V. at my callback audition for COMPLEX NUMBERS, which was very cool.  After everyone introduced themselves on stage, Brie took over with his conducting duties…which, for the first half or so of the show, consisted of getting snippets of stories out of the audience concerning their experiences with love of all stripes.  When he did, the actors would then bring it to life in one shape or another, with some of the most beautiful and unaffected improv I’ve ever seen.  Some were simple, some were funny, others wrenching, but everything had a very sweet, honest feeling to it.  I was impressed.

The second half consisted of Brie coaxing a volunteer from the audience to sit with him and tell a fuller story of love, good or bad, which the team would then act out in long form.  The teller of the story would get to cast his/her tale, and name it if they so chose.  And this is where I went from being impressed to being damn well blown away.  The stories that came out were SO personal, so affecting, so moving, that the sheer responsibility of Playback really started to hit home.  I mean, it’s one thing to perform for a happy crowd looking for a good night out.  It’s another entirely to do it for a man who is literally waiting for you to give him a reason to go on living tomorrow morning.  That’s surely about as dangerous as theatre gets, and certainly as heartwrenching.  The performers were all absolutely committed and fearless on stage, and Paul’s music was the perfect accompaniment.

So I can see that Playback is not your everyday, average theatre, and that’s a good thing.  I’ll be back, and maybe I’ll even take a stab at telling a story of my own (probably not, really, but still…).  Thanks to the Sanitas gang for a great job.  Peace, soul, and a little extra love this time out,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Second Class, Level 3 – Tactics

In OSSD Acting Class on April 24, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Zoinks, late with the posting this week!  And no excuse to speak of…or does laziness count as an excuse in the swingin’ 21st century?  Let’s just say it does.  Now Claradippity, and I’ll get started with the tale of class number two over at the OSSD.

Chugging along with our level 3 course centering, for the time being, on monologues, we managed an even four students in class this week…myself, Catherine, Rachel and Vanessa, back from a bout of the illness.  As per last week’s instructions, we each had to have a monologue picked out by this week (Canadian, contemporary, and a few other criteria).  I’d settled on a bit from the 2005 Summerworks show THE FILE by Greg Nelson (later reworked into the ’06 GCTC show THE FALL, as it turns out).  Found it in a collection of two-handers I picked up, and the character seemed like a close enough fit to me to give it a go.  Got off-book quick enough…funny thing, it turns out I can get off-book on a monologue pretty damn quick.  On a lark, I tried to see how much I could remember of the bit from ODD JOBS Brie gave me last class, and to my surprise, I still ‘membered the whole thing.  Not bad for 45 minutes of work, eh?

Anyhoo.  Brie gave us all a little warm-up time at the top of class, which we used only sort-of incompetently (we’re new!), before he came in to watch us monologue it up for him.  I went first, and only forgot to breath half the time, otherwise at least getting all the words out.  Vanessa followed with a piece from Michel Tremblay, then Catherine with her bit from Sharon Pollock’s DOC, and finally Rachel with even more Tremblay, who officially won the most-popular playwright in class award for this week.

After, we round-tabled it and explained what we could about our character and why we chose what we did, asked a few questions, basically hashed things out.  Then it was on to a few diff’rent games for the remainder of class…the first one had us pairing up, alternately shouting two nonsense-words at one another (see if you can find them, cleverly hidden in this post!), one meaning ‘go away’, the other meaning ‘come here’.  One person said the word, the other person’s job was to absolutely NOT do the thing being asked.  This was followed by a more wordy variation with a few different scenarios (fighting over a single seat at the theatre, or the last pot in a lifeboat).  They seemed at times like excercises in futility, but what Brie intended was for us to observe the various tactics we tried using to get what we wanted in each situation.  Everyone wants something, he pointed out, and pretty much always.

Which led into our assignment for next week…to go over our plays again, and again, and unearth everything we can about the characters from the text, and find out just what the hell it is they WANT in those monologues, and how they’re going about trying to get it.  A daunting and fun task…I’ve already given mine a good once-over, and really need to schedule another pass in before class.

Oh, and remember to breath.  That would help also.  Now Beekbokkachoy, you mob, I’ve got tea to drink and another post to write once I put this one to bed.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

The DANGER PROJECT!

In Theatre on April 20, 2011 at 3:42 am

Had a mellow day at work today.  Quiet lunch, easy specials launch, lots of lean-time.  It was nice.  It was relaxing.  And clearly, I needed something to wake me the fuck up.  Thank goodness I had just the thing scheduled for the evening.

Yes, tonite was the nite, the long-anticipated, much-dreaded opening of THE DANGER PROJECT from the mad fiends over at May Can Theatre.  And, truth be told, I had little idea of what to expect, knowing naught but the name, and that May Can was previously responsible for the perfectly goddam amazing YOU ARE HERE at Algonquin.  So I was primed and ready, and it even happened at a bar (the Avant-Garde), and what goes better with everything than drinking?  I mean, sure, it took the bartender LITERALLY 12 minutes to pour a single pint, but after that, I was golden.  Met up with smooth Tim Oberholzer, fresh off his triumphant run of ZASTROZZI, his de-lovely pal Maria, and even Miss Emily Pearlman.  we all settled into the back of the AG and waited for the lads to do their thing…whatever that thing was going to end up being.

The ‘lads’, by the way, are Cory Thibert, Tony Adams and Leslie Cserepy…you may have seen them in the aforementioned YOU ARE HERE, MECHANICSVILLE MONOLOGUES II, SPEAKERS and likely ever more than that.    They’re talented, enthusiastic cats, and they were here tonite for one reason above all else…to have a great time, and to bring as many people along for the ride as possible.  It’s hard to describe the Danger Project without sounding like a coke fiend having a panic attack, but here goes…it’s basically a rogue semi-musical retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that flouts theatrical convention, tells a whole lot of dick and rape jokes (I mean, really an impressive amount), and comes with its own letters of apology should they be required.  These guys think ahead.

A deep show this is not, folks, but a fun one it is.  I know I didn’t stop smiling and laughing from the get-go, and for five bucks that makes this just about the best theatrical bargain in town.    There are moments of seriously inspired comic lunacy in this show (the 3-d segment comes gloriously to mind), many that are hilarious, and some that just flat out fall on their face…but it doesn’t even matter, because the next bit is always only seconds away!  The Danger Project is a really, really fun show, it tries harder than other shows, and could likely kick most other show’s asses in a back-alley knife fight if push came to shove.  It’s raucous, inventive, juvenile, loud, short, fun, AND cheap.  What the hell else do you want?

Hats off to the May Can gang (whose hands I happily got to shake tonite…keep up the Dangering, you lot!), they work hard for the money. Check the show out, have a drink, listen to the tunes afterwards.  It’s SO much more fun than talking politics.  You’ve got two more days, Ottawa, make me fuckin’ proud.  Get Dangerous.  Peace, love and soul,

the Visitor (and Winston)

The Path – part 1

In Theatre on April 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I’m waiting for a phone call as I start this post.  A phone call that, as some actor-types might reinforce, feels kind of important just now.  It’s the call telling me whether or not I got the part.  Let me back up.

It was way back in June of 2008, when I wandered into the Ottawa Fringe Festival for reasons passing understanding, that I first tumbled unwittingly onto this path.  For the previous xx-years of my so-called ‘adult life’, I’d been merrily unaware/ignorant of the beast THEATRE.  Things had been going along well enough, I suppose…I had a pretty epic comic book collection going, some nice tee-shirts…I was fine, really.  But then, Fringe.  Then, THEATRE.  And then, without meaning to at all, at all, I found myself on the Path.

I saw a shitload of shows that summer at Fringe, blown away by things I never imagined you could DO with acting (Jayson Mac and Gemma Wilcox, bless your hearts).  I started writing plays in my head, pondered taking acting classes, and generally got all worked up in my head.  Then, for a whole year…nothing.

True I didn’t see a single play outside of Fringe for that year, until the 2009 Festival.  Then I saw even MORE shows than the previous year, got blown away AGAIN, made a few connections and friends this time (Amy Salloway, I’m thinking of you, darlin’!), and left witht he same high hopes and dreams as before.

THIS time, I started seeing some theatre outside of Fringe.  Caught my first shows at the Gladstone and the GCTC, caught plenty of little independent shows at interesting new venues, even made my first mini-roadtrip to catch COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS at a coffeeshop in Toronto.  The Path was getting more and more complex.

2010.  The Fringe again, only this time, I did something diff’rent.  This time, I decided to TALK about it…or write, rather, in computer form.  And rather than just post some Facebook notes, instead (inspired by FamousActressNancyKenny), I started what the hip kids call a ‘blog’.  THIS one, in point of fact.  And then the Path started going just plain NUTS.  Suddenly, after only a few weeks of entries, people I’d gawked at on stages were coming up to ME and talking.  Saying nice things!  I was meeting people left and right, and loving it.  I saw more shows than ever (48, to be precise…), and left more excited than ever.

I took my first real theatrical roadtrip after that, in August, to SUMMERWORKS in Toronto.  And even though I was sick the whole time, I had a ball, finally meeting Emily and Nick from MiCasa, and seeing some grand shows.  One even used a line from my blog on their sandwich board!  The Path was chugging right along.

on returning to Ottawa, certain real-life events prompted me to make a decision I’d been putting off for a couple years…Acting Classes.  Specifically, at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  Just a one-night-a-week course, but with the mystical Barry Karp at the helm, my Path was leading me along faster than ever.  Met some lovely folks, had a blast, and re-upped for a second semester when it was over.

Meanwhile, I was seeing more and more regular season shows all over the place, and writing about them on the blog, which was getting more fans than I could have dreamed of.   Okay, they weren’t exactly commenting regularly (hint), but the stats were steady, and the more shows I went to, the more people seemed to know who the fuck I was.  I met cool beans characters like Tim Oberholzer, Simon Bradshaw and Kelly Rigole, Andrew Snowdon, Pat Gauthier, the aforementioned Nancy Kenny AND her cat Winston, currently in the 7th month of his 2-month stay at my pad (not complaining), and many more.  Finished semester 2 at OSSD with coach Brie Barker, learning plenty of cool new stuff, and re-upping for S3.  Met Fringe Executive Producer Natalie Joy Quesnel, who offered me a gig helping out with a super-secret project for the Fringe itself!

The Path was starting to roll me along faster and faster now.  I was at the point where I realized that, if I ever got one of those ‘girlfriends’ again, she’d better be hyper into Theatre, or else she’s gonna come in second.  Which sounds terrible, but it’s true.  I’m Theatre’s bitch at this point, and ain’t nothing I’m gonna do about it.  I love it.  It’s the Path, dig?  I’m on it, and I’m not getting off for anything.

Which leads me to Nadine Thornhill, another of those cool beans people I was mentioning before.  She’s got a play coming up at the Fringe, and invited me to audition for it.  And, with some prodding, I did just that.  And even though it was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, i made it through, and director Ken Godmere even brought me back for a second audition just yesterday.  I read with such awesome folks as Jen Vallance, Tim Anderson, another Jen and a Steph (whose last names escape me at the moment, apologies, you lovelies!).  And as in my first audition, I relied on Ken’s direction for a lot, but I had fun and I think I did good.  And today is the day he makes the calls to let us all know the final score on casting.  And so, as I sat, waiting to see where the Path was leading me next, terrified both that I might get OR lose the part, I started this post.  Post #144 since June of last year.  Not bad, I think, as these things go.

And as I was writing these last few paragraphs, Ken finally called.  And the final news is in:

I didn’t get the part.

…and okay, I’m disappointed.  Maybe equal parts disappointed and relieved, really, which is confusing as Hell, but I thank Nadine and Ken many times over for the opportunity.  And I DID make it to final cut on my first time out of the gate.  Not TOO shabby.  I feel kinda proud about it, actually.  So there.  I’m proud.

Meantime, I’ve got semester three with Brie Barker starting up, and have to memorize a whole new monologue for THAT.  Which should keep me busy in case I’d been thinking of moping over the news tonite.  I will try and NOT do that, although you better believe I’ll be hyper-critical when watching the guy who got my role in Nadine’s play this June!  He’d better nail it, you dig?  That’s COMPLEX NUMBERS, by the way, and I’ll be there, front fucking row, covering it for the Visitorium.  Bigger than ever.  I’m going for an even 50 this year, and I pity the fool thinks I can’t do it.  I may do Summerworks again, too.  The Path stops in one spot, it just starts again in two other places.  I like that.

That’s it for tonite…I’m off to drink my not-getting-the-part away, like a proper actor should.  And I’d better see some of you madfolk at the DANGER PROJECT tomorrow nite at the Avant Garde!  Because I’m nowhere near done with the Path yet, nor with meeting cool beans people.  To be continued, someday.  Peace, lotsa love, and a whole lotta soul, y’all,

The Visitor (and Winston)

I am ZASTROZZI! …and you’re not.

In Theatre on April 15, 2011 at 3:31 am

I’ll say straight up, I’d been looking forward to this night for a long time now.  I mean, I see my fair share of theatre, and some I’m more excited about than others, but tonite…hoo boy.  I was excited for this one.  After a month or so of maybe the best viral marketing campaign the Ottawa scene’s had in a while, I was more than stoked and now it was finally here…ZASTROZZI THE MASTER OF DISCIPLINE by George Walker, courtesy of the Algonquin Theatre Arts gang.  And after how much I enjoyed their last show, ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, nothin’ could keep me away.

It also did not hurt that my date for the evening, once again, was the outstanding and Adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill, a situation I could easily get used to.  So everything looked good going in to this, the final show of the Algonquin Theatre season.  Feelin’ happy I made it to all three…I is a patron of the arts!

After a brief chat out in the lobby with superstar director Teri Loretto-Valentik, and some quick chatter with celebrity guest-attendee Margo MacDonald, Nadine made a glamourous, last-minute entrance and we took our seats (front row, bitches!).  The set was GORGEOUS, courtesy of very recent Rideau-Award winning designer Ivo Valentik.  A moody, Escher-esque nightmare that wouldn’t let you look away from it.  Spiffy.  The lights went down, the best pre-show announcement EVER was delivered, and the show began at last.  And mercy me, it did not disappoint.

For those who, like me, were not familiar with Walker’s tale, a brief synopsis: our (anti-)hero, the master criminal Zastrozzi, scourge of Europe and self-appointed judge of humanity, has spent the last 3 years tearing across the continent in search of the artist whom he holds responsible for the death of his Mother.  Accompanying him in his epic quest for revenge are the brutal Bernardo (a wonderfully snarling Matt Beaubien) and sensuous, deadly Matilda (Kyla Hawley, making naughty fun again).  His quarry, the mad painter Verezzi, is played with over-the-top glee by Aaron Mellway, dressed like my 70’s-era Mego Joker action figure and loving every minute of it.  Protecting him is Victor, aka Will Lafrance, a man torn between his duty and, well, common fucking sense.  He pulls it off nicely.  And torn between both camps is innocent Julia (a very solid Megan Cameron), proud and kind, but destined for more than she counted on.

At the heart of it all is Zastrozzi himself, played by my good buddy Smooth Tim Oberholzer.  So yeah, I’m biased, but fuck that shit…Tim OWNS this role from start to finish, revelling in Zastrozzi’s twisted philosophies, sparkling wit, and resplendent ruffled shirts.  I’m happy to say this is easily one of my fav’rit performances I’ve seen so far this year, and I’m kinda guessing it’ll hold up over the coming months.  Tim seems tailor made for this role, and if the run were longer than a paltry four nights I’d gladly come back and catch it again.  I know Tim was looking forward to this role, and I’m so goddamn glad it turned out as amazing as it did.  Oh, and the swordplay..?  Wicked cool fun.  The icing on a particularly sinful cake.

So, really, congratulations to Algonquin for a great season, and to the whole ZASTROZZI team for a job incredibly well done.  I am officially impressed…and awaiting great things NEXT season.   Believe me, I’ll be there.  If you don’t have your ticket for the remaining shows (two more as of this writing), move your butt now, because there aren’t many left.  Nor should there be.  Great acting, set, costumes, music, lights…this is a student show..?  Fuck me.  I guess Ottawa is just that awesome.

Peace, love and soul (for as long as it amuses me to let you retain these things),

The Visitor (and Winston)

First Class, Level 3 – Return of the Audition

In OSSD Acting Class on April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

So after a lengthy, early spring break between semesters (or 1 week, however you want to count it) it was time to haul ass back to class at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  It’s level 3, kids, the end of the ‘Get Into the Act’ road.    This time, it was promised we would cover monologues (about 1 week too late for ME, but whatevah) and scenes.  At last, the meat of the theatrical matter!  I had a hearty repast and zipped down to the school, somewhat lamenting the fact I would no longer enjoy my pre-class chats with Boss Barry Karp, who isn’t teaching a class this time around.  But I WAS pleased to see our two-time sub from level 1 Mary Harvey (who I FINALLY remembered I saw on stage in Tototoo’s KILT last year) geting set for her Improv class.  Very tempting now to take that next time around, she was a perfect delight.

Soon enough fellow returning classmates Catherine and Rachel showed up (our two other L3 peeps, Julie and Vanessa, were out for this week’s class, sadly), along with Big Cheese brie barker, and we settled right back into our usual space for some big-time acting lessonry.  We sat down in a…let’s call it a ‘circle’, shall we?  And Brie handed us our assignments.

Wait, time out.  Assignments?  On paper?  Damn, this is starting to smell like SCHOOL after all this time.  And sure enough, on each page was a short monologue that Brie had hand-picked for each of us.  It was about 7:15.  He smiled, and said he’d be back in one hour for our auditions.  Yes, we had 1 hour to commit these pieces to memory as best we could (tho were WERE still allowed to reference the sheet at all times) and perform them.  It was audition time.  AGAIN.

FUCK.  I only just got over my jitters from last week’s ACTUAL audition (scroll back a few posts for the harrowing tale, if you dare).  But what the heck…I had to admit, I was pretty stoked to be getting another go at this.  So I picked a corner, grabbed my sheet, and started speed-practicing.My monologue was from something called ODD JOBS by Frank Maher, and was about a drunken worker raging at the world.  Brie knows me so well.

We were disturbingly quiet in that room as we ran our lines…something Brie had specifically warned us against, but shyness got the better of us.  After an hour he returned, set up our viewing chairs/gauntlet of judgement, and we dove right into it.  Catherine got tagged first, and did very nice with a piece from Sharon Pollock’s DOC.  I was the middle man, and did my best with my bit…once again, I think I tried to be too demonstrative with my performance (did I learn NOTHING from Kenner G??), although I was TOTALLY almost off-book.  Which made me a little proudsome.  Rachel got the final call, and despite being kinda nervous (I relate, I relate) got through her piece, I think from a play called…nope, nope, I forget.  It was fun, though.

We all just sat around after that, discussing pros and cons of how it went, just dissecting the experience.  We all rather fully understood by the end of it how valuable it would have been to practice these things out loud, and I’ll sure try harder to do THAT next time.  More homework after that (aww!), in the form of an assignment to track down and start working on a NEW monologue (or even the one we did that class) for NEXT class, with a few addendums.  I spent the better part of today out and about, loading up on Canadian plays (one of the addendums was that it had to be a Canuck piece),  and I think I’ve got a good selection to work from.  Now to power-read for the next few days and make a choice.   I thought of just using the one from class, or even the piece I did at last week’s audition, but no.  It feels like more fun if I start from scratch.

So there’s level 1, off and running.  An intimate class, to be sure, but that’s probably for the best given what we’re doing.  I’m pretty excited for the next few weeks,  you bet.  Vanessa, Julie, Brie said he’d e-mail you the specs for the assignment, but if ya want any more info or help, gimme a shout!  And FYI, the Rideau Chapters has a small but useful section of Canadian plays, with a very decent amount by women writers.  So there’s that.  And the library, I’m told, if you’re into that ‘socialism’ thing.

Awright, I’m out!  Got plays to read, lines to run, and hair to tease.  Peace, love and soul, fellow thespians,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Party On, John K!

In Theatre on April 13, 2011 at 12:16 am

As I sit at the computer, waiting breathlessly for a callback on my audition (are you supposed to wait?  I have no idea), I’m watching rather incredulously as the hits on my site reach an all-time high for the Rideau Awards story I just posted.  Not bad considering I didn’t even mention any of the winners.  Turns out name-dropping and girl-watching really ARE what it takes to get ahead in the world of online blogging.  No problem, I can do that.

Or maybe people just love a party.  Which would ALSO be good, since I have one more of those to blather about.  Once again quite late, but there IS a purpose to even a tardy bit of coverage, twofold even.

Reason the First:  The party, held this past Friday at Arts Court, was celebrating the sixtieth birthday of a young up-and-coming actor by the name of John Koensgen.  If you’ve never heard the name, welcome to the wonderful world of Ottawa Theatre.  John, while I’m woefully unfamiliar with much of his repertoire and credentials, it is safe to say is at the very least a Grand Poobah, if not flat-out big Muckity-Muck in the Ottawa Theatrical scene.   He stars in big shows, little shows, wins awards, gets the job done and leaves’em cheering.  He’s a grand, talented, classical actor with a tremendous presence and charm, and now that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with him a few times, I can safely say he’s one of the sweetest, nicest guys you’ll ever meet (note: if your name is Denis Armstrong, you MAY disagree with this last statement).  He actually went to the trouble of personally inviting me, a weird internet nerd whom he’d met once or twice, which blew me away.  Who was I to refuse?
It was a dandy spread, with a cool orchestral trio bopping away live tunes and booze flowing at a solid pace.  Bumped into fellow scenesters Nancy Kenny, Simon Bradshaw, Smooth Tim Oberholzer and Andrew Snowdon straightaway.  A tasty catered spread was laid out, pretty impressively too…yummy munchies!  The theatre crowd gobbled it up…they call them ‘starving artists’ for a reason, y’know.  After a while a few other familiar faces showed…Trevor from GCTC in a rare moment outside of work; Catriona Leger, returned from her travels; The Bedberts; and actor/playwright Geoff McBride…all very cool.  And, thanks to some gentle nudging/dragging from Nancy, I even met a couple new folks, like Messr. Pierre Brault, and the divine Mary Ellis.  Later on, as the evening was winding down, I got a chance to shake hands with the birthday boy himself, who said some really, really nice things to me.  i’m still blown away whenever ANYONE does that, but Koensgen..?  Humbling.  It’s MY honour, sir.

John in last year's amazing BLACKBIRD, with Rideau Award-winning co-star Kristina Watt.

Reason the Second:  The birthday party doubled as an introduction to the new season from NEW THEATRE OTTAWA, the company for which John is Artistic Director.  They are one of the new resident companies at Arts Court starting with the 2011-12 season, along with Evolution Theatre and…who else?  Somebody help me, here.  But anon…the evening was also used to give us a preview taster of scenes from their upcoming shows/plays/whatevers (John was deliberately and gleefully vague on the matter), with readings by himself, Greg Kramer and Brian Stewart.  Each piece entertained, and I’m especially tickled to see Greg Kramer on board.  I’ve been a big fan since HAUNTED HILLBILLY last year at Summerworks.  John also outlined the NTO mandate of fair pay for actors, and a commitment to producing all-new, locally produced work, all of which sounds like music to my ears.  It also gets me inspired to start working a little harder on all those plays worming around in my OWN sick brain.  A Visitor can dream, after all…

A great evening, great theatre to come, and I left just tipsy enough to have trouble waking up in time for work the next morning.  Awesome.  And once more for the road, a very happy birthday to John Koensgen, and much success in the exciting year to come.   Peace, love and soul, Killer,

The Visitor (and Winston…both fans)

Rideau 2011 – The Gala!

In Theatre on April 12, 2011 at 2:15 am

Not quite sure what’s going on lately, but  for the last few days, instead of actually going to theatre?  I’m just going to theatre parties.  It’s freaking me out a little bit, but I like it (kind of a lot).  Only now I have two of the damned things to write about,and in true dadaist fashion, I’m starting with the second one.  I figure, it’s too late to get anyone to GO or anything, so I might as well start with the one that’s freshest in my memory.  Don’t worry, the John Koensgen party post will be coming soon enough, and we’ll see just how much information I manage to cling to in my crumbling palace of memory.  I’ll probably just link to an Irish Rovers song or something.

Which leaves us with Party #2, aka the PRIX RIDEAU AWARDS gala.  After finally making up my mind to actually go to the damned thing, I found I was in need of a couple things.  Tickets, for one thing, and maybe a ride.  Fortune, smiling in a rather suspicious manner on me, gave me both of these AND a date in the form of the adorkable ™ Nadine Thornhill.  A fine turn of events, although this upped the ante a bit…Nadine is rather famed as a bit of a fashion plate in this town, and I had to step up to her standards.  So I hit up Ragtime for some vintage duds, and managed to cobble together an outfit.  Did I measure up?  Would Nadine and me be the best-dressed hipsters at the soiree?  You tell me:

The correct answer, FYI, is 'Yes'.

Now, before any of you get the wrong idea, no it was not a DATE-date.  Nadine is still happily married to her Man of Mans, and I ain’t THAT lucky.  But I felt plenty fortunate heading off to the gala event with her this past Sunday, and a swanky affair it was.  We arrived at Maison de la Citoyen in Gatineau in time for a pre-show drink and mingle.  It was your prototypical ‘everyone who’s anyone’ scenario going on, and it’s messing with my worldview a little that I’m starting to feel even a LITTLE bit comfortable among some of these cats (and I don’t just mean Cat Leger, who looked faboo and said nice things to me).   Like, I can just walk on up to John Freaking Koensgen and say ‘Hey, how’s it going’, and that’s, like, okay?  Crazy.

But anyhoo, we were off to the awards presentation soon enough (and don’t worry, I’ll get to the name-dropping and fashion appreciation afterwards), entering into the sweet theatre at the Citoyen.  Nadine and I scored front row seats like the badasses we are, not missing a moment of the 90-minute show.  I  won’t give you a laundry list of the winners…you can check that out yourself here (Facebook link for now…I’ll change it as soon as Prix Rideau updates their website).  I WILL say that, goddammit, I saw 42 Fringe shows last year, and the one I DIDN’T see wins everything?    Hey, Zopyra Theatre, any chance of a SIX: AT HOME remount now that you’re famous?  Promise I’ll catch it this time!

Hosts Annie Lefebvre and Alan Neal were charming as all get out, wings and all, and I loved the bumper pieces from the always entertaining Ottawa Stilt Union.  And of course, celebrity guest presenters were plentiful in this, the only bilingual Theatre awards ceremony in Canada (yay for us!).   Fringe superboss Natalie Joy Quesnel did a bang-up job directing the proceedings, and deserves many hugs.

With awards handed out and applause liberally spread around, it was time for the REAL star of the night…the party.  Everyone hustled upstairs, darting past the various woodland nymphs and satyrs who were just, you know, THERE because it’s theatre and we can’t do anything normal.  There were many tasty nibbles spread about, drinks flowing, and marathon mingling getting underway.  I stuck by my gal, and soon enough we were joined by Ottawa spoken word and fashion Queen Jessica Ruano.  She looked quite divine, as did most (Hell, all) of the lovely theatrical ladies abounding.  And while us gents (including Smooth Tim Oberholzer, Simon Bradshaw, Brad Long, and a neatly-shaven Al Connors, among many others) were lookin’ sharp, ya know at an event like this it’s ALL about the ladies.  As such, without further ado, I’m rocking out my RIDEAU 2011 CRUSH LIST:
#1: Nadine Thornhill.  Hell yeah she’s number one!  She’s the lady I came in with, isn’t she?  And the visitor don’t play around like that.  Also, Nadine can dance like nobody’s bizness.  In HEELS.

#2: Nancy Kenny.  Rideau Awards 2011 fun fact – did you know Chris deBurgh was there?   It’s true!  And when the event was over he climbed into his Delorean, travelled back in time to 1986, and wrote this song about Nancy Kenny:

Showoff.

#3: Natalie Joy Quesnel.  Aside from being cute enough to be tweeting people at the party from her cellphone while AT THE PARTY HERSELF, Natalie rocked her purple Awards outfit like a runway model.  HAWT.  I said it.

#4: Kyla Gray/Jodi Morden (tie)  Maybe it’s because they’re my Under Milk Wood girls (Miller!  Where were you??), maybe it’s because they called me dapper (Heather Marie did too!), or maybe I just enjoyed trying to impress them with my faux dance stylings, but Kyla and Jodi (henceforth to be known as ‘Kydi’) were a very welcome addition indeed to the crowd that night.

#5: Alix Sideris.  Goddess.  I’ve mentioned that, right?  And watching her and beau Andy Massingham dance is like getting a free lesson in how to live your life.   Goddam wonderful.

…and it just occurred to me that I could probably keep this list going all night until I’d exhausted every single woman in the room.   Tania Levy, Cari Leslie, Brownyn Steinberg, Cat Leger, Kate Smith, Emily Pearlman, Kelly Rigole, Jess Ruano, Teri Loretto, Shawna…Actually?   I’m sure she has a real last name…but whatever.  The Visitor thanks you all, ladies, and believe me I had a blast dancing with you.

That was about it for me at this gala…Nadine and I danced ourselves silly and rode off into the sunset, leaving a few hardcore revellers still partying.  It was a grand, fun night, and I’m already looking forward to next year (not to mention the Andrew Alexander snap of me, Nadine, Natalie and Jessica).  Nadine, if the MoMs still doesn’t care for Awards ceremonies by next year…date dibs?

Peace, love and soul, revellers,

the Visitor (and Winston)