Glass City

Wow (The 2011 Jessie Awards)

Angela Konrad, me, & Sabrina Evertt with Glass City Theatre's Best Production Jessie. June 20, 2011

I had a pretty fantastic night last night.  I danced until my feet bled. I cheered until I lost my voice. I partied with the Vancouver Theatre community in recognition of a great year of theatre in Vancouver. And most of all, I celebrated with friends as they were nominated for and won awards. A huge congratulations is in order to Rob Olguin who took home the “Best Actor – Small Theatre” Jessie.  Also, Drew Facey (Set Design – Small Theatre – for Playland at PT), Ron Reed & the PT team (Significant Artistic Achievement – Small Theatre – Curation and Execution of an Outstanding Season), Evan Frayne (Sam Payne Award), and Cheryl Hutcherson (Mary Phillips Award for Behind the Scenes Involvement). I am so thrilled that I know all of you and get to create theatre with you.

The highlight for me  was the announcement of the “Outstanding Production – Small Theatre” Jessie being given to Glass City Theatre’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.

A year ago I was in Chemainus looking at my computer and trying to figure out a budget that would allow us to hire the talented people we wanted to work with.  I am so proud to see what came of that.  I was sitting at a table with Sabrina Evertt, the costume designer for ‘A’ Train, and I think she just about fell out of her seat when they announced it.

Mike & Rob – I can’t wait to see what you do next.

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For a list of all the winners, head over to the official Jessie Awards website. Or check out the live blog from Rebecca Bolwitt (Aka Miss604).  Can you find me in a photo on that post?

10 Reasons to go see Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train

This is the part where I am telling you what to do. If you are in or near Vancouver, go see Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train at Pacific Theatre. It runs from tonight until April 2nd. You can book your tickets online here. I can wait.

Now, maybe you are asking yourself why you should see this show. Well I will tell you. I will, in fact, give you TEN REASONS.  But first, I must confess two things to you: first of all, it is produced by Glass City Theatre, the company that I co-founded (but am no longer with) and secondly, I’ve spent the last week in the theatre with them assisting with sound.

Here are the reasons you should see the show:

#1 – Stephen Adly Guirgis, playwright.  This man is brilliant.  I loved The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and I love the script of ‘A’ Train as well.

#2 – Angela Konrad, director.  If you saw Grace at Pacific Theatre a couple of seasons back, she won the Jessie for directing that, and this is of that same calibre.

#3 – Itai Erdal, Set & Lighting designer.  There’s a reason Itai has a reputation as one of the best designers in town, and this show is no exception.  It is stunning to look at.

#4 – Sabrina Evertt, Costume designer.  More likely you know Sabrina as the artistic director of 20 Something Theatre, but she is also an incredibly talented costume designer.  This show just proves it.

Rob Olguin as Angel Cruz. Photo by Itai Erdal.

#5 – #9 – Rob Olguin, Andrew McNee, Carl Kennedy, Kerri Norris, & Evan Frayne: The Cast.  I have watched this show approximately 10 times in the past week.  And last night at the preview I was floored once again by this cast.  They are talented, they are smart, and they give such life to their characters.

#10 – I’m not the only one who thinks it’s fantastic.  Check out what people are saying about the show:

“Jesus Hopped the A Train” and so should you. An amazing show from @PacificTheatre featuring a sublimely talented cast. Go see it. – @tarakjpratt on twitter

GREAT SHOW!!! – Stefano Giulianetti on Facebook

“Ok – honestly – I’ve been waiting all season for the opening of Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train and after just sitting on the dress rehearsal I’m just that much more excited for Friday. I don’t know if I’ve ever been this proud to work for Pacific Theatre!” – Alison Chisholm on Facebook

“I saw the production ‘Jesus Hopped the A Train’ last night at Pacific Theatre. It was one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I have seen in this city in quite some time. Thought provoking and packed full of talent. Sound, Lights, everything came together to make this a fantastic production. Thank you!!” – Susan Currie on www.glasscitytheatre.com

“This is a great show. Script. Acting. Directing. Thought provoking. Gut wrenching. Vancouver is on a good run of theatre lately.” – Mike Wasko on Facebook

“Just saw Jesus Hopped The A Train …… Fuckin’ A! Go see it. Crime, crack, redemption(?), and multiple murder…. What’s not to love.” – Maria Denholm on Facebook

“amazing show. one of the best I’ve seen.” – Glynis Thorp on Facebook

“Hop on. Right now because you only have until April 2. And yes, they swear. Get over it; if it was a movie you would.  What do I need to understand about a convicted murderer, prison and despair? That is not remotely relevant to my life. But then again, we’re all made of the same human stuff, aren’t we?” – Kimberly Dawn on facebook

“This production of Jesus Hopped the “A” Train contains some of the most exquisite acting you’re ever going to see….Robert Olguin plays Angel with the subtlety and authenticity of a gifted screen performer; not to get hyperbolic or anything, but watching him is a bit like watching Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. Olguin’s performance never shows off or explains; his character simply reacts in the ways he does because of who he is and what’s happening to him.  And Carl Kennedy’s Lucius is a mind-blower: witty, savvy, terrified, charming…As written, Valdez is a bit of a cartoon, but actor Andrew McNee shades it in with gleeful menace. Kerri Norris’s Mary Jane is a persuasive combination of competence and disintegration. And Evan Frayne nails the smallest role in the play, a guard named D’Amico, providing some of the most moving moments of the evening. Itai Erdal provides subtle lighting as well as a stunner of a minimalist set. The excellent, grinding sound design is by Joel Stephanson.  Director Angela Konrad is the woman who pulled it all together. And this production marks the mainstage debut of Glass City Theatre. Now there’s an entrance.” – Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

“For a thought provoking, gut wrenching, tear inducing drama that has plenty of laughs check out this new company and revel in the talent and be carried away by the story of Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.” – David C. Jones, OutTV

“Both Kennedy and Olguin are spectacular here although I was simply mesmerized by Olguin’s portrayal of the street-wise Latino.  From the opening scene where Angel struggles to remember the Lord’s Prayer, to his attempt at the end with Hail Mary, Olguin hits each note of his character with such precision, that by the end of the show I too was in tears….Director Angela Konrad has orchestrated a cast and technical crew for a show that is near perfect.  Gritty, raw and thought-provoking, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train is why I go to the theatre. If you see only one show this year, this should be it.” – Mark Robins, GayVancouver.net

Saying Good-Bye to Glass City

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned anything about my work with Glass City Theatre (the company I co-founded earlier this year).  Partly it’s because there hasn’t been anything exciting to say.  The Fringe Festival went well and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train is still a few months away.  However; I now want to give an update on my involvement with Glass City.  Following a conversation with Rob, my co-founder, earlier this week, I have stepped down from an active role with the company and am moving into an advisory position.

When Rob and I met back in February my career was in a completely different place than where it is now – I was just beginning my first Equity apprenticeship and figured it would take a good two or three years for the apprenticeship process to be completed.  That of course, was not how things went – it’s now eight months later and I’m a full member of Equity, a fact that makes moving forward with Glass City very difficult.  As Rob put it, I now have the kind of career that they are hoping to emerge into.

As tough as it was, we agreed that its probably for the best if I step aside and support the company from a distance.

It makes me sad because I was really looking forward to working with a lot of the people involved with Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, especially director Angela Konrad.  In fact, that desire to work with such a great group of artists was one of the main reasons I was working to find ways to continue with the production.

It’s been a really hard decision for me to do this and not one I wanted to make.  But ultimately I think it will be best for both the company and I.  I wish them all the best with the production of the show and look forward to attending it and seeing their creation.

The Art of Selling Out – Stretch Dog at the Vancouver Fringe

Think of the worst commercial you’ve ever seen. Now think of the poor jerk that had to be in it. He didn’t want to be there, but he’s got a wife, a baby, a mortgage, and believe it or not—talent. Trouble is he’s also got an agent.

Directed by Michael Wipf, Stretch Dog is a dark comedy about a man at a major crossroads in his life. With the “help” of his agent/manager/fair-weather-friend, this anti-hero navigates a growing family, a flailing career, and a disappearing sense of self worth. Along the way he discovers the age-old art of selling out.

Written and performed by Robert Olguin, Robert is an actor and writer who came to Vancouver by way of Colorado and more recently Seattle. He received an MFA in acting from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program and a BA in Theatre from Trinity Western University. Years ago, he served as an acting apprentice at Pacific Theatre and will now return to that space as Glass City Theatre pairs with Pacific Theatre, in it’s (small but mighty) inaugural season.

Stretch Dog is the inaugural show for the new Vancouver theatre company, Glass City Theatre. Part of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, Stretch Dog runs September 9th – 19th at Pacific Theatre (12th and Hemlock).

Tickets are $10 and are available online at www.vancouverfringe.com/calendar.

Note: Strong language advisory.

“Painfully hilarious. By turns Robert Olguin gives belly laughs and cringingly honest, accounts of his version of the Human Condition” [Mark Jenkins, The Actors Studio].

Dates:  September 9 – 18, 2010 (Times vary as per below)
Thursday, September 9th – 9pm
Friday, September 10th – 9pm
Saturday, September 11th – 5pm & 11pm (11pm show HALF PRICE)
Tuesday, September 14th – 9pm
Wednesday, September 15th – 11pm (10% of proceeds go to Foodbank)
Thursday, Sept ember 16th – 5pm
Friday, September 17th – 5pm
Saturday, September 18th – 7pm
Venue: Pacific Theatre, 1440 W. 12th Avenue, Vancouver
Tickets:  $10.00 plus applicable fees

5 Quick Tips for Actor Resumes

I debated whether this post belonged on this site, or over at www.glasscitytheatre.com because it is through getting ready for those auditions that I have had these revelations. I decided to post it here because it is my personal opinion, and not that of the company.Stack O' Resumes

In the past two weeks I’ve had about 50 actors from around the lower mainland submit themselves to audition for Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train & I am very excited about those auditions. I can’t wait to see all of their talent in person.  However, there have been a number of things that could be fixed simply to make an even better impression.

1. Send your resume as an accessible document

So don’t use .docx files. I don’t actually use MSWord. I have open office, which is great. But it means that when people send a .docx file I can’t open it. I can open a .doc or a .pdf, but not .docx.  PDF’s are a great way to send resumes because they keep your formatting & don’t have any sort of spell check still going once I open it on this end. Not sure how to save files as PDFs? Check out this e-how article.

2. Correctly spell the names of productions you’ve been a part of

For example, if you played a principal role on Battlestar Galactica, please don’t spell it Gallatica. I’m aware of the show, and your poor spelling makes it look like you aren’t. And you were on it. The same is true for plays, director’s names, & theatre company names.

3. Put your name in your file name

I have downloaded 50 resumes from the e-mail account in the past couple of weeks and only a handful of them are identifiable. Most of them are simply called “Resume” or “theatre resume” or “acting resume.”  I don’t know who they belong to until I open them. Put your name in the file name so I can find yours quickly! When I send out my resume I send out “Lois Dawson Theatre Resume”.  It’s a slightly longer title, but it makes it easier to find once its on their computer.

4. Write a cover letter

It doesn’t have to be long – even a couple of sentences. But make it professional, even if we know each other.

5. Attach your resume

The number of e-mails that have come through missing attachments amazes me. And these are ones where they don’t follow up to attach it. I don’t have the time to chase after people to get my hands on their resumes.  Similarly, don’t put the resume in the body of the email. I need to download it to share it with the other producers & the director, and you are making that much more difficult.

None of these tips are rocket science, I know, but the small things really do make a difference.

Introducing: Glass City Theatre

A few months ago I got an e-mail out of the blue from a friend of a friend.  It’s subject line was “A New Thing?” and inside it said:

Hello, my name is Rob Olguin. I have been talking with our mutual friends, Ron Reed and Angela Konrad recently and wanted to introduce myself to you….Recently the idea of…a new company has come up. We are in the process of determining what that might look like. After reading and enjoying your blog, and a glowing endorsement from Ron and Angela, I would love to get together and formally introduce myself. My dream is an ensemble company – working, training, and creating together – HOWEVER, the reality is, I don’t know a strong community of theatre artists up here yet. Are you free anytime this weekend or next week to get a coffee, introduce ourselves, and chat about this idea of a new company?

And that’s where it started. Coffee.

In actuality, coffee became a three hour conversation and when I left I was taking a script with me for consideration and seriously contemplating not just being a part of a new company, but co-founding it.  My mind was racing. I’d been contemplating producing for a couple of years but hadn’t taken any serious steps towards making it happen, even as a one off, and now I was looking at co-founding a company. Was I insane?! (Ken Davenport would argue not at all – you need to produce, not just talk about it!)

I talked to some people whose opinions I trust and told them what I was thinking: that I was terrified but excited.  Their response? “If you’re terrified of it that’s exactly why you should do it. You have the skill set necessary. Make it happen.”

I eventually e-mailed back and said that I was in. This lead to more coffees and beers. A name for the company. Glass City Theatre. An e-mail from Rob which read, “I can’t believe we are doing this! Lets be COURAGEOUS and down with Cowards and Nay-Sayers.” We added a third member to our little tribe: Michael Wipf who is experienced as a producer with the Push Festival & Touchstone Theatre. We took the leap and programmed two shows for our first year out.

The first show is Stretch Dog, a one-man show written & performed by Rob Olguin & directed by Michael Wipf as a Bring Your Own Venue production at Pacific Theatre during the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Think of the worst commercial you’ve ever seen. Now think of the poor jerk who had to be in it. He didn’t want to be there, but he’s got a wife, a baby, a mortgage, and believe it or not, talent. Trouble is, he’s also got an agent.

The second show is Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped the “A” Train which will run at Pacific Theatre from March 11 – April 2, 2011. I will, of course, be stage managing it, and it will be directed by Angela Konrad.

Rikers Island. Two men sit in solitary confinement, 23 hours a day. Lucius Jenkins is a serial killer who awaits execution, Angel Cruz stands accused of a murder he doesn’t believe was a crime. One has found God, the other needs to find himself. Visceral, gritty, harrow- ing – an uncompromising drama about contradiction, contrition and hypocrisy by the author of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.

The website is in development and will contain our mandate and all the other things that theatre company websites have. This morning I got the proofs for the Pacific Theatre season brochure which includes info on our shows and all of a sudden it was real.  It wasn’t just me and the guys making plans over beers at a restaurant; it was all of a sudden a real company.   And let’s be honest. I’m still terrified. It’s a big commitment. But I’m also excited.  It’s a huge leap, but I’m holding my breath and flinging myself over the edge.  Because after all, the most exciting things – the most exciting art – happen when you let go and go for it.