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What I’ve Learned – The First 9 Months

So, I’ve been bad with this  blog.

Like, really bad.  Like not updating since August bad.  But as it turns out, I’ve had a lot of very fun things to do since August, and I’m finally ready to process it all and get back on the blog-wagon.  In a tribute to Stephen Heatley’s famous ‘samplers’ (UBC kids will know what I mean here), here are a few of the valuable lessons I’ve learned in my first 9 months out of theatre school.

GOOD ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH – Vancouver Fringe Festival

I spent a lot of time running around the campus of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival this year, seeing as many shows as possible and flyering my tired butt off for Oh My God with Delinquent Theatre.  I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of artists, both local and visiting, national and international.  I saw a lot of amazing theatre, and a few disappointments.  The common thread between the best shows?  Attention to detail.  Without fail, the shows I enjoyed the most were created by artists who integrated storytelling, design, and atmosphere without sacrificing any quality due to lack of resources, or simply letting something be “good enough”.  From the international Fringe vets to the first-timers and wild Onsite shows, my favorite theatrical creations showed evidence of great care and vigilant creative standards in every aspect of the show. It reminded me to always look at my own work and think – could it be better?  What can I do to keep moving forward?

A CAREER IN THE THEATRE IS NOT LINEAR – Making a Scene Conference

In November I attended the Making A Scene Conference, presented by the GVPTA.  If you have never attended the conference before, I strongly, strongly recommend you do.  The short form explanation of MAS is a gathering of the best minds in the BC theatre scene gathered in a room to discuss, debate, and dissect the state of affairs in our local theatre scene, and what we can do to serve it better.  Check out the 2011 MAS report for some highlights – I left leaving, well… engaged and empowered, which was the title of the event.  One of the many things that have stayed with me was the remark made that “a career in theatre is not linear”.  This struck a chord with me and continues to do so.  Looking back on my time out of school so far, I can clearly see that every dream gig I didn’t land ended up freeing me to do something else different and exciting.  There’s no such thing as ‘lost time’, unless you make it so.  In this career, there’s no standard path to follow – it’s all up to you.  After 3 years of regimented theatre school where your time is not your own, it’s thrilling and terrifying to know you’re now holding the reins.  Talking with more established theatre artists helped me understand there’s no right or wrong path – just the one you choose for yourself.

THEATRE IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN – Wizard of Oz at Carousel Theatre

It’s a simple lesson, but perhaps the easiest to forget.  After months of auditions, callbacks, anxiety and planning, I finally got to settle in and do my first post-school Equity contract.  And what a dream – The Wizard of Oz with Carole Higgins and Carousel Theatre!  With multiple character tracks, 10 costume changes, and wonderful choreography, Oz was one of the most personally challenging shows I’ve done to date, and I wouldn’t have survived it if it weren’t for the warm, fun and funny group at Carousel.  Whether it was through inventive and inspired choices on stage or MadLibs and fart machines backstage, they always kept me laughing and reminded me that – oh yeah, this is supposed to be fun. There is plenty to be anxious about in this career path, but it won’t be worth it if you can’t relax and enjoy the moment, and I am grateful to the wonderful folks I worked with on Oz who reminded me of that.

IT’S NEVER THE RIGHT TIME/IT’S ALWAYS THE RIGHT TIME – Delinquent Theatre

On January 9th, 2012, my friend and theatre partner Laura McLean and I got the news that our fledgling company Delinquent Theatre was officially incorporated as a non-profit society.  This brings us into a new and complicated era of AGMs, boards, grants, licenses and more.  It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s so very worth it.  We’re mounting 2 original musicals within the first 6 months of our incorporation, and doing everything on our own.  We’ve got ambitious plans for the next year and a bit for Delinquent Theatre, and you know what?  We’re ready for it.  There will never be a ‘right time’ to take a leap of faith – you can keep waiting for the time when you have a little more money, a little more time, and a little more experience – or you can jump in with both feet, open eyes, and an open heart and see what you learn.  We’ve opted for the latter, and I look forward to all the lessons I haven’t yet learned, but am about to.  Bring it on.

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Wild Honey – Tech Weekend!

As I write this I am scurrying around my kitchen packing my bag for tech weekend for Wild Honey – it’s been a fun few weeks of rehearsal, and now we put all the pieces together to see what we’ve got. We had our photo shoot with Tim Matheson this week, as you can see by the fabulous photo to the right, we’ve seen the brilliant set by Amanda Larder coming together in the Freddy, and now it’s time to tech, dress, preview and off we go! I’ll be updating this page throughout the day (10AM-10PM baby!) so check back to see what the Wild Honey cast and crew are up to. Here goes!

11:14 AM: First thing up was the safety talk: our Stage Manager extraordinaire Emily
Griffiths told us what not to walk on, fall off of, break, or play with. ASM Hayley Peterson
brought us a buffet of snacks so the green room is full of chocolate, candy, chips, bread,
cheese and peanut butter. They may need to let out our costumes after this weekend!
Now we’re running through the scene changes – one includes two moving trucks, all the fly rails, and the entire cast.

12:35 AM: Cue to cue begins! As an actor, this means time to be quiet and stay out of trouble.
Clearly we have our work cut out for us. The girls are pleased because we got the big dressing room
at the Freddy Wood, and we’ve started to set up our makeup stations.

1:39 PM: Many of us have long breaks in the play, and cue to cue makes this even more evident – so we’ve developed a bit of a card game obsession. You can count on seeing us going nuts, yelling and pounding the
table playing Slap-Jack, Speed, Nerts and Solitaire. It keeps us entertained and out of trouble, even if we’re shouting and bruising each other as we do it!

4:35 PM: Still cue-to-cueing. Food is almost gone. Many rounds of cards have been played. I have my slippers on!

Being good little actors and staying nice and quiet.

6:17 PM: The costumes have arrived in the dressing rooms. I can’t wait for the dress rehearsal tomorrow. I am not on for about an hours worth of stage time which translates to many hours in tech time. More card games for me!

Costume racks - note the Justin Bieber poster on the left.

8:11 PM: The boys have rigged up a massive projector screen to play the Canucks game while we wait for our cues. Awesome!

9:31 PM: Cue to cue is almost done – we’re just putting together a complicated special effects sequence. Curious? You’ll have to come see the show to find out. But it’s pretty much badass.