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.

Towards a Humane Theatre

Animal welfare and rights have always been an important topic to me.  I grew up volunteering at the BC SPCA with my mom and have had many pets over the years.  I have always questioned our society’s relationship with animals – are they friends, or food? Are they a resource and commodity, or living creatures deserving of rights?  I feel strongly that our current way of doing things – our pracitices with pets, livestock, and animals raised for the meat industry is largely exploitative and deeply troubling.  That being said, these feelings come with built in hypocracy – I would never wear fur, but I do own leather shoes (mostly second hand).  I don’t eat meat of any kind but I’m not vegan.  I am concerned about the treatment of animals in our society but I struggle with breaking free from the consumer cycle that is the main reason animals suffer for our convenience.

I find with these kind of issues, like the ‘greenwash’ movement, people tend to sieze upon the uncomfortable dualities of these things.  There are those who don’t pay any attention to their consumer habits and scoff at those who do; there are animal rights groups that believe strongly that vegetarianism is not enough, and that folks like me who aren’t absolute in our practices aren’t doing enough.  It’s a tough discussion to face –  I for one believe that the all or nothing approach will leave people (like the aforementioned naysayers) unwilling to try at all.  I believe that if we begin to shift our habits bit by bit as a society we can make great change.  And we must.

I’ve been thinking about how to make my passion for animal welfare and theatre work together and was inspired to give my makeup kit a cruelty-free makeover.  I thought it would be hard, given that I am working on a limited budget, but I was surprised to see how many companies have made the switch to cruelty free production. There are also a wealth of resources available to help locate affordable cruelty free products – I signed up to receive a free Cruelty Free Shopping Guide from Peta.  Their website is fantastic and comprehensive, and it’s easy to look up your favorite brands and see if they make the cut.  Through Peta I found My Beauty Bunny, a website/blog dedicated to finding fabulous products of all kinds that haven’t been tested on animals. Skeptics should visit My Beauty Bunny for proof that cruelty free cosmetics don’t have to be all hemp chapstick and vegetable dyes!

So who did make the cut?  I was so relieved to find Cover FX on the list – I’ve sworn by their kick-ass water based high pigment foundation for years and will proudly keep buying their products.  Revlon and Wet ‘N Wild both make drugstore-price cosmetics in great colors for the stage, and both are certified by My Beauty Bunny as cruelty free.  M.A.C, Sephora and Stila have also made the switch (UPDATE MARCH 2012: It seems that M.A.C. has backslid on its commitments – please check for up to date info from M.A.C. before deciding).    It didn’t take a ton of money or even a special trip to a different store to make my products cruelty free – just a little research and a commitment to changing my consumer habits. While I’m not always on board with Peta’s tactics in other areas regarding animal rights, I applaud their resources on cruelty-free consumerism.  By shifting our habits and ways of thinking,  we can send a message to companies still using barbaric animal testing that we prefer to stand behind those that have left those practices behind.  I plan to put my money where my mouth is and keep my art cruelty free.

When It Rains, It Pours

The month of January was a four week long break from shows for me, and I spent most of it looking for something to do. Isn’t that always the way these things go? Knowing that February would be crazy, I chose to relax and enjoy my time off and bemoan my lack of “something to do” instead of getting a head start on all that awaited me. Even though I’m totally swamped now, it was fun to take some down time. And when it rains, it pours…

On January 31st we started rehearsals for our last show at UBC, Michael Frayne’s Wild Honey directed by MFA Candidate Brian Cochrane. We’ve only done table work so far, but already it’s been a blast. Wild Honey is a play adapted from a huge, unfinished manuscript written by Chekhov in his younger days – it has the woeful, emotional transparency of Chekhov but with the pace and wit of a Frayne farce. It’s a brilliant show, and I for one do a lot of ‘weeping’, ‘sobbing’ and ‘fleeing’. It’s so much fun to go to rehearsal every day.

Solo shows are coming up this Friday and Saturday – after blogging about it three weeks ago I completely scrapped the almost-finished show I had written by that time in favor of a new, more challenging piece. I’m doing a sort of bouffon-inspired clown piece that I find extremely scary to perform, which will hopefully pay off – I figure we have so few chances once we emerge from school to try and completely fail, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to either sink or swim… I’ll let you know how it goes!

Finally, my show Our Time opens in just over a week at the Dorothy Somerset Studio. I am so, so excited for people to see my writing and the work that director Brendan Albano, stage manager Hersie-Nina Init, and performer Pippa Mackie (who I’m quite certain will soon take over the world) have done. I sure hope you will come out to see it! Pop over to the Delinquent Theatre website for more information. I will have more to say about Our Time next week, but please do mark your calendars!

So much for “nothing to do…”

The Kids Are Alright

Anyone who’s been to theatre school knows what a unique bond you forge with your classmates. Over these three years we’ve seen each other at our best and our absolute worst, spent 12 hour days together, laughed, cried and partied together. It’s so personal to watch someone work in class, and I feel so lucky to have seen my 14 incredible classmates grow as artists and as people through our time together. I have never been part of a group as amazing as this. 14 people from all different backgrounds and diverse personalities have become some of the best friends I’ve ever had. We have so much fun together whether we’re slaving over bookwork or celebrating an opening night, and I know that these guys will be my lifelong friends.

Our class photo from last year - we're obviously a very mature group.


As the Theatre at UBC season starts to come to an end, one by one my classmates are taking their final bows on the UBC stage. It’s an emotional thing, to say goodbye to the stages and the company that we’ve grown with through our time at UBC. It’s emotional too to sit in the audience and watch my dear friends on stage and see the beautiful artists they’ve become, and imagine what the future holds for them.

Sarah Goodwill, Andy Cohen, Claire Hesselgrave, Joanna Williams, and David Kaye in Dead Man's Cellphone

On Thursday I went to the opening night of Dead Man’s Cellphone, Sarah Ruhls bizzare and lovely play about a woman who answers a strangers cell phone and enters a twisted and poignant family drama. This is the first show this season that I haven’t been in, and so I was super nervous to see my classmates at work – you know that feeling? All of a sudden I understand what it must have been like for my parents all these years, sitting in the audience feeling nervous for this person you love, excited to see them shine and hoping they have a fantastic show. Of course, they were wonderful! The show is funny and dark, and totally quirky. I was just so damn proud of my friends, and it was a great show to boot! I was kind of verklempt watching them take their bows knowing how far they’ve come and what wonderful things await them. I hope you’ll go see Dead Man’s Cellphone and see for yourself!

Ignite Youth Week Reading

Last night I had the pleasure of joining Heidi Taylor of Playwrights Theatre Center and Corbin Murdoch of the Cultch for a reading of the winning plays from last year’s Ignite Youth Week Festival Young Playwrights competition.  Corbin meets with a panel of young artists every Monday through the year to put together a weeklong festival of theatre, dance, drag, visual art, music and film – the Ignite Youth Week Festival!  Every year the panel holds a Young Playwrights competition and select 3 new scripts, which are produced the follow year as part of Ignite.  It’s extremely exciting to be part of Ignite as an audience member or participant – for a week, the Cultch’s beautiful facilities teem with youth artists who put together a stellar week of programming.  If you’ve never been to Ignite, I hope you’ll make an effort this year – the vibe is like Hive, Fringe, and PuSh rolled into one and bounding on a sugar high.  The energy is invigorating, the work is great, and it’s so inspiring to see kids as young as 13 working their butts off to make this festival sing. 

Kholby and Pippa, actors extraodinare

Last year my play Our Time was mounted at the Vancity Culture Lab as part of Ignite – this year I had the chance to help the current batch of young playwrights develop their work.  Under the guidance of Heidi and Corbin and the playwright’s mentors Ami Gladstone, Michele Riml and Dave Deveau, we read the three plays for this years festival.  I was joined by Pippa Mackie, Sebastien Archibald and Kholby Wardell to read Onomatopoeia by Sigal Samuel, The Living Situation by James Elliot, and Hide and Go Sell by Chris Nyarady who attended the reading all the way from Halifax via Skype!  I was so impressed with these fantastic scripts by emerging young playwrights. I love love love play readings and we all had a grand old time reading these funny and very smart new shows.  The playwrights will work with their mentors to further develop these scripts having heard them read by actors, and then they’ll turn them over to the directors.  If you’re interested in directing or acting in this festival, head on over to the Ignite Mentorship Blog and check out the details – it’s a great opportunity to work in a beautiful venue.  I had a blast reading with Sebastien, Pippa and Kholby and can’t wait to see how these shows take shape!


There’s something deeply ironic about having a job that requires us to be fit, attractive and in peak physical condition, and a lifestyle that sees us capping off a long day of rehearsals with several beers and greasy pub food.  This irony is not lost on my final year class as we start to consider seeking film and television work after graduation, and facing the competitive theatre industry.  We left off the last week of classes in December with a Hanukkah party that left us too full to move and began our new semester with an afternoon at Koerners pub.  It’s time to get off the bar stool and back into shape!

We ate so many latkes. So many!

Generally, I am a disciplined person – since closing Seussical I’ve continued to warm up and stretch every day, have started eating more fruits and veggies, cutting back on caffeine.  But when it comes to exercise, I am the worst.  As my classmates sail out the door to the gym, I don’t even dignify my non-participation with an excuse – I simply don’t want to.  This needs to change!  Here at UBC we have so many options for staying fit, and I plan to tackle my extreme dislike for exercise and get in shape.  Here are a few ways my classmates and I intend to shape up this semester:

The Gym

This is how the Bird Coop makes me feel. Like a doughy, sleepy hamster running on a wheel.

UBC is host to a variety of different gyms, but our gym of choice is usually the Bird Coop.  Just a stones throw from the SUB, membership to the Bird Coop is a sweet $25 per term, afer which you can just swipe your student card and go.  While it’s insanely busy at the start of the term (gee, I wonder why) there are tons of cardio machines and every weight-lifty-thing imaginable.  The Bird Coop comes with a certain vibe though – the guys are beefy and self-assured and the ladies dress to impress even while sweating it out on the treadmill, so unless you thrive on competition it may be too intimidating.

The Pool

UBC students get free access to the Aquatics Center (again a close neighbor to the SUB).  It’s open most of the day for swimming laps, has a sauna and steam room and a small gym that is significantly less busy than the Bird Coop.  Last year we even had a ballet barre class in the pool – very cool!  Lots of the girls work out at the pool to develop long, lean muscles and avoid stress on joints.


Yoga is great exercise for stretching and strengthening muscles and much of the philosophy behind it reinforces the voice and movement work we do in class.  I would practice yoga more often if it were more affordable – I was pleased to find the classes at the UBC Rec Center are affordable and conveniently timed, so I will definitely be registering with them.  Other favorite studios include Semperviva and Moksha Yoga.

That’s my list for now – hopefully I can join my classmates in “getting jacked”, as the guys like to say.  For now, I’m curious – how do you get in shape?  Please comment if you have a favorite gym, studio, or activity that keeps you feeling great!

Surviving the Wicked Stage

It’s January 4th and I’m deep in the throes of the new years resolution thing. I am somewhat of a goal setter no matter what, but this year I’m in it with a vengeance. There’s a few reasons: Firstly, it’s just natural to feel the need for change after the over indulgence of the holiday season.  As well, 2010 was good to me and I’m hoping to keep the ball rolling, strike while the iron is hot, hit the ground running and all of those cliches.

Of course, the main reason for this sudden rush of self-improvement is the fact that I will graduate from theatre school this May. I’ve dreamed of the day “when I graduate from theatre school” since I was 13 years old, with visions of national tours dancing through my head. The reality is a much sweatier, queasier kind of future, but that’s okay. Despite feeling like I might abruptly vomit whenever I remember my time as a student is coming to an end, I’m feeling excited and optimistic. And I feel like blogging about it.

Photo by Steph Meine
Us in class. Not pictured: sweat, blood, tears.

Back when I was a little younger, I used to love all those clichés and romanticized images of the theatre, and one of my favorite phrases was “life upon the wicked stage”. I chose this for the name of my blog because of its other meaning to me: I’m about to enter that wicked stage of life, fresh out of the nurturing womb of theatre school and hoping to make my mark in the big bad ‘real world’. Exciting times and disappointment both await, and while rough at times, I bet it will be wonderful too. So here I am, surviving that wicked stage.

Here goes nothing.