Theatre

New York Day 4 – Coney Island

For a change of pace today we left Manhattan and headed out to Coney Island/Brighton Beach. And it was such a delightful day. Ice cream. Hot dogs. Roller Coasters. Dipping our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Strawberry Daiquiris. Laying on the sand. Cotton Candy.

Around 5:30 the wind really starting picking up and we’d had an early supper on the boardwalk, so we headed back into town. I then headed out to have drinks with a friend from the internet – a delightful two hours of drinks and discussion, while Jaime had a chance to call home and watch some hockey.  A very wonderful day.

Onwards!

(Okay, here are the photos you’ve been waiting for!)

 

Jaime dips her toes in the freezing cold Ocean. I'm so glad I had my camera handy to capture this.

Jaime dips her toes in the freezing cold Ocean. I’m so glad I had my camera handy to capture this.

Such a beautifully sunny day! This was before I got a brutal sunburn.

Such a beautifully sunny day! This was before I got a brutal sunburn.

The view from the pier.

The view from the pier.

We did it! We rode the Cyclone. In our souvenir photo (taken at the bottom of the first steep drop) I look like I'm about to cry. It is hilarious.

We did it! We rode the Cyclone. In our souvenir photo (taken at the bottom of the first steep drop) I look like I’m about to cry. It is hilarious.

New York Day 3 – Happy Birthday to Me

Happy 29th birthday, self! I think that was about as perfect as a day could be.  Instead of describing it, you get photos. I’m much too tired to write a lot.

Brunch - complete with all you can drink mimosas on the upper east side.

Brunch – complete with all you can drink mimosas on the upper east side.

Our first broadway show: Curious Incident. Amazing design work and acting from the young lead.

Our first broadway show: Curious Incident. Amazing design work and acting from the young lead.

Grilled Cheese supper like the grown ups we are.

Grilled Cheese supper like the grown ups we are.

The hype did not lie: Book of Mormon was excellent.

The hype did not lie: Book of Mormon was excellent.

Ending the night right: NY Cheesecake & the bartender's special drink (I asked for something Fruity with Champagne, he came back with this - champagne, four kinds of vodka, triple sec, bourbon and something else in addition to the juice)

Ending the night right: NY Cheesecake & the bartender’s special drink (I asked for something Fruity with Champagne, he came back with this – champagne, four kinds of vodka, triple sec, bourbon and something else in addition to the juice)

New York Day 2

So. Much. Walking.

Soaking in some art

Soaking in some art

That’s the thing always forget about big museums is that you are going to end up walking for many many hours. And that’s exactly what we did.  This morning after trying out the breakfast included with our hotel (It’s pretty good!) we made our way up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and began exploring. There is a big private party happening there on Monday, which means that a lot of the exhibits and areas are closed for set up. Security told us that Kanye West is performing at the party, but I’m not sure if he was serious or just pulling our legs. Anyways, we spent most of our time in the Egypt wing, American Wing, and European Art/Contermporary Art wings (though we did walk through the Roman, Oceanic, and Medieval areas as well). Jaime and I both share an affinity for the Impressionists, so we spent a substantial amount of time looking at the paintings of Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Brauques (pre-cubism).

Real life is not like Mary Poppins

Real life is not like Mary Poppins

Leaving the museum, we made our way to Central Park where adult Lois made 4-year old Lois’ dreams come true. Yes, I rode the Central Park Carousel and grinned with delight the whole time!  As family lore goes, young Lois first rode a carousel shortly after watching Mary Poppins for the first time and was utterly terrified that the horses were all going to come to life and ride away like they did in the movie.

In wonderland

In wonderland

We also found the Alice in Wonderland statue. One of my favourite things about the photo that Jaime took of me on it is the young girls climbing on the statue as well. As we were walking away from there and over to the Bethesda Fountain, we heard a couple of women calling to the kids to leave so they could take a photo. The kids were smartly ignoring them and continue to play, exactly as the statue was designed for.

One of them is a chocolate dipped birthday cake

One of them is a chocolate dipped birthday cake

After leaving the park, we walked over to Madison Avenue to do some shopping. Jaime bought a beautiful new handbag and I looked at some very beautiful and expensive things. And then we bought cupcakes because it was almost my birthday and cupcakes are the greatest. These cupcakes were not any old cupcakes though – they are delicious mini-cupcake tops, and some of them are topped with macarons. So we got a box of 12 and ate them for dinner. Because we are adults and we will do what we please! They were delicious and disappeared far too quickly.

I'm a bad patron.

I’m a bad patron.

We made our way back to the hotel to drop off our treasures before heading out to the Village to see the Vampire Cowboys show Six Rounds of Vengeance. The show came highly recommended by most of the people I know in NYC and the playwright is a college friend of my former boss so we decided to see our first NYC show in a cool little theatre in the West Village. We got there early and walked down to the pier where we could stand between Manhattan and Hoboken and see both at once, as the sun was setting. And the show was a lot of fun. The company specializes in “geek” theatre, inspired by comic books with vampires, monsters and parallel worlds and I certainly enjoyed it.

After the show we met up for drinks with a local playwright who I know through twitter and had a good visit about theatre, fringe festivals, and Doctor Who. The three of us were walking down the street post-drinks when i looked at my phone and realized it was after midnight and therefor my birthday. Happy birthday to me! I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures!

New York Day 1

Around midnight PST/3am EST near the beginning of our long day.

Around midnight PST/3am EST near the beginning of our long day.

After staying awake most of the night due to flying on the red-eye (how does anyone EVER sleep in the middle seat?!), we landed in Newark this morning around 10am and had only been out off security for a few minutes when someone asked us for directions for the first time. Score one for looking confident and fitting in. (We were asked again twice over the course of the day around the city). We arrived at our hotel around 11:30, but were not able to check in until closer to 3, so we dropped off our luggage and went on a walking adventure of downtown.

First: Lunch. A giant pizza from Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, which was delicious but more food that the two of us could handle. From there we walked down to Battery Park to take a look around, partly because Jaime wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. We’re going to actually go do the cruise to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island on Wednesday, so today was more of a preview.

From there we walked up to the 9/11 memorial and spent some time looking at it and also reflecting on the commercialization of it, not by the official memorial folks so much, but the hawkers out selling their wares.  That is something that has definitely stuck out for me so far – the amount of hawking and selling happening, which I haven’t noticed in other cities. Then up to city hall, down along the Brooklyn Bridge and back to the hotel where we got our room and forced ourselves not to take naps by taking showers instead.

Our room is on the very top floor – the 27th. It’s quite small, but we don’t plan to spend a lot of time in here.

Jaime taking in the nightlife in Times Square.

Jaime taking in the nightlife in Times Square.

And then it was off on another adventure – this time Times Square to get our bearings before we go try to see lots of shows. We popped into a bunch of the specialty stores (Hershey’s store made me think of Christopher & Sebastian in Niagara Falls) and mostly just wandered around taking everything in. We were going to try to do Top of the Rock, but it had a 3 hours wait so we decided not to do that, and instead planted ourself in Times Square as the sun went down, the lights came up, and the hawkers and characters came out in full force. After jumping into a picture that was already being taken, and then bringing all their friends into it, a number of the character folk got aggressive in their request for tips. I kept saying that I never asked them to be in my photos and walked away. I’m sure we made them angry, but it was reality, and i’m not interested in tipping for something I didn’t want.

Before they realized I didn't actually want them all in this photo.

Before they realized I didn’t actually want them all in this photo.

By shortly after 8 we figured we’d stayed up late enough that we could reasonably get some sleep so we headed back to the hotel to plan for tomorrow’s adventuring!

Re:Union at Magnetic North Theatre Festival

2015 ReUnion PosterIf you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember back in the fall of 2011 I worked on an amazing show called Re:Union, which I referred to on my blog as “the most challenging piece I have ever worked on.” It’s been four years and I think it may still be the most challenging piece I’ve done, but I am very excited to get to take another stab at it. Yes, after almost four years away from it, Re:Union is going national and heading to Ottawa this June for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. But the cost of producing a show this technically complex with a team as spread out as we are (LA, Seattle, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa) is high, so the producers are doing some crowd-funding to help make sure that they don’t end up out-of-pocket on this one.  If you’ve got a little bit to spare, the campaign is set up on IndieGoGo and the rewards are everything from “the most dramatic clip on the internet” to a private Backyard BBQ or a political theatre event for your organization. To support the project, please CLICK HERE.

Excitingly, this means that I’m going to be headed to Ottawa for four and a half weeks while we re-rehearse, re-tech and then perform the show.  And as a bonus, I’m going to NYC for 10 days on my way there. Chances are I’ll be chronicling the NYC trip here on the blog, and probably some of the Ottawa adventures as well.

Ottawa, I’ll be seeing you real soon!

2014 In Review: What I Saw

After years of saying that I was going to spend less of my nights off seeing theatre, I still managed to see more shows than last year, yet nowhere near what I saw in 2012. There were a lot of shows I really wanted to see this year but didn’t, and that is directly related to a promise I made myself in February of this year. I promised myself that I wouldn’t miss any more of the big events. I’ve missed lots of weddings, birthdays, and parties celebrating dear friends because of work or because I had pre-booked a ticket to see something and I don’t want to do that any more. Maybe It’s just that I’m getting older or that my friends are starting to have kids, but there are more and more life events that it is important to me that I’m present for. For example, I saw way less Fringe shows this year because there were two weekend days during the festival that I spent celebrating with friends instead of seeing shows.

That said, here are the 91 shows I saw in 2014.

  1. Uncle Vanya (Blackbird Theatre at the Cultch)
  2. Super Night Shot (Gob Squad at PuSh Gala)
  3. Measure for Measure (Honest Fishmongers at PT)
  4. PuSh Sunday Roast
  5. One (Theatre Noyee at The Cultch)
  6. One Man Lord of the Rings (Charlie Ross)
  7. Hockey Night at the Puck and Pickle Pub (Monster Theatre)
  8. Out on a Dream (Patrick Street Productions)
  9. Art (Gateway)
  10. Driving Miss Daisy (Arts Club)
  11. The Odd Couple (Arts Club)
  12. Nothing But Sky (The Only Animal)

    Nothing But Sky, written and directed by Kendra Fanconi, opens tomorrow (Friday, February 21st) at The Dance Centre.

    Nothing But Sky, written and directed by Kendra Fanconi, opens tomorrow (Friday, February 21st) at The Dance Centre.

  13. Little Shop of Horrors (York House School)
  14. Tempest Replica (Kidd Pivot)
  15. The Seafarer (Pacific Theatre)
  16. Floyd Collins (Patrick Street Productions)
  17. Helen Lawrence (Arts Club)
  18. Mies Julie (The Cultch)
  19. Frozen (EnLiven Productions)
  20. Soliciting Temptation (Tarragon Theatre)
  21. Watching Glory Die (Canadian Rep Theatre at The Cultch)
  22. Obstructions: The Electric Company
  23. Killer Joe (ItsaZoo)
  24. Kim’s Convenience (Arts Club)
  25. The Gondoliers (North Shore Light Opera Society)
  26. Don Carlo (Vancouver Opera)
  27. Spamalot (Arts Club)
  28. How Should You Be? (Revolver Festival at the Cultch)
  29. Live From the Belly of the Whale: Revised (Revolver Festival at the Cultch)
  30. Pauline (City Opera)
  31. Wicked (Broadway Across Canada)
  32. Totem (Cirque)

    IMG_1505

    Mom & I at Totem

  33. The Tempest (Bard on the beach)
  34. Gruesome Playground Injuries (Stones Throw Productions)
  35. Red Rock Diner (Arts Club Theatre)
  36. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bard on the Beach)
  37. The Orpheus Project (Music on Main)
  38. The Winters Tale (Classic Chic)
  39. Cripple of Inishmaan (Ensemble Theatre Company)
  40. The Normal Heart (Ensemble Theatre Company)
  41. Gary Has a Date
  42. Thus I curse Love
  43. Herm and Gertie
  44. Seaside Stories of Terrible Things
  45. Dr. Frightful Presents; Dead Air
  46. Saudade
  47. Roller Derby Saved My Soul
  48. Peter N’ Chris and the Kinda OK Coral
  49. …didn’t see that coming
  50. Aiden Flynn Lost his brother so he makes another
  51. The Unfortunate Ruth
  52. Lord of the Flies, Remixed
  53. Little One
  54. We’re All Mad Here
  55. Magic Unicorn Island
  56. Puss Re;Boot
  57. My Beautiful Monster
  58. Greenland
  59. Industry: The Food Must Go Out
  60. A Mind Full of Dopamine
  61. Ludwig & Lohnegrin
  62. Greatest Monkey Show on Earth
  63. Lord of the Files
  64. Eidola
  65. Chase & Stacey’s Joy Ride
  66. Jesus Made Me Funny
  67. Pub Culture
  68. Best Picture
  69. Cabaret of Bullshit
  70. Lac/Athabasca
  71. Dirty Old Woman
  72. Moonlight after Midnight
  73. 4000 Miles (Arts Club)
  74. Cymbeline (Bard on the Beach)
  75. God Is a Scottish Drag Queen II (Pick Plus)
  76. Educating Rita (Arts Club)
  77. Daisy Theatre (Ronnie Burkett at The Cultch)
  78. My Rabbi (Sum Theatre at Firehall)
  79. The Rainmaker (Pacific Theatre)
  80. Our Town (Osimous Theatre)
  81. Darling (Springboard Productions)
  82. Evil Dead: The Musical (Downstage Right Productions)
  83. Stickboy (Vancouver Opera)IMG_2593
  84. Hedwig & The Angry Inch (Uncle Randy Productions)
  85. St Joan (Arts Club)
  86. Urinetown (Firehall)
  87. Late Company (Touchstone)
  88. Mary Poppins (Arts Club Theatre)
  89. Christmas Presence (Pacific Theatre)
  90. It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play (Pacific Theatre)
  91. Cinderella: An East Van Panto (Theatre Replacement)

Five Random Thoughts on Stage Managing

Cue the SM Duckie overseeing tech rehearsals

Cue the SM Duckie overseeing tech rehearsals

Tomorrow I’m heading out to my alma mater to speak with an intro to theatre and a directing class about what it is that stage managers do and the director/stage manager relationship and it has had me thinking a lot about what stories I want to tell and what I want to highlight for the students.  But as I’ve been thinking there have been a few random thoughts that I wanted to share.

1. I keep hearing about people in the industry who say they wish they’d known about the wide range of jobs available for non-performer/directors when they were younger. As professionals we need to be a part of inspiring the next generation to take up behind the scenes roles as stage managers, technicians, producers, publicists, TDs, and craftspeople. While I know directors & actors who like to comment that “all you need for theatre is a performer, a story, and someone to watch it” the reality is that most of the time you need a whole team of people to create the best possible circumstances for that story to be told in.  One of my favourite first day of rehearsal photos is from a one-man show I stage managed: at first read there were 27 people around the table. Young artists: If you are not a performer there are still (at a minimum) 26 other ways to be a part of making magic for audiences!

2. Critical success is not a part of what judges stage management success: it is possible to call a perfect show and be wonderful to work with and still work on a show that is a critical failure, just as it is possible to be a great actor in a bad show or to write a good show that’s given a terrible production or to be a great director faced with impossible circumstances or to design the one element of a show that worked. Critical & audience response should not be the basis of any artists self worth, and yet for performers, directors, designers, and playwrights there is a level of public scrutiny and putting yourself out there that a stage manager does not have to consider.  It is necessary to be sensitive to the ebb and flow of the critical tide while ensuring that the audience gets the show the director left you with night after night – just because something gets a laugh does not mean it needs to be bigger and just because it didn’t get a laugh doesn’t mean the moment needs to be smaller.

3. Relationships are the life-blood of this industry. While that is probably true of any industry, it seems especially pronounced to me in theatre.  People ask me sometimes how it is I find my work and while part of the answer is that I send out resumes to companies I’m interested in working with, it is also true that sometimes it is just about being in the right place at the right time. More than one gig has come up because I found myself next to a director at an opening night  after party and got to chatting. The other jobs tend to come because two people were talking and one of them asked for recommendations. The flip side, of course, is that whenever I turn down a job I am asked for recommendations too and I have an ongoing list of people that I recommend. We cannot see each other as competition – it doesn’t serve anyone to work that way.

4. I am an anti-specialist. While some people will specialize in one type of show (musicals, small casts, new plays) or one type of contract (Indie, ITA, CTA, tangerine, benefits, collective, Guest Artist, festival) I am a big believer that variety keeps life interesting.  I have worked under every theatre contract Equity offers and worked on almost every type of show. My favourite years are the ones where I jump from working on a large cast show in an impressive venue to doing an outdoor site specific show to doing a one man fringe show to doing a new play at The Cultch. It keeps me on my toes, forces me to keep stretching myself, and requires that I never sit comfortably where I am because there is always something more to learn.

5. Never stop seeing theatre. We learn about what’s possible by seeing what other people create and also get inspired to try new things. Sometimes the shows that are most inspiring are off the beaten track and other times they are giant spectacles. But also, know your burn out level and be prepared to say no sometimes. It isn’t possible to see everything – or even everything that your friends are in. And when you have to say no, be honest – your friends understand because they have to make those choices too. Right now I get really excited about seeing shows where I know nobody because it is always inspiring to see fresh talent – it is much easier to be positively surprised by people you have no expectations of.

Upcoming: Solo Collective presents Small Parts

 

Photo of Jeff Gl

Photo of Jeff Gladstone & Eileen Barrett by Johnny Liu

I’m back in the rehearsal hall with Solo Collective (after a year away from this fantastic company) and we’re getting ready to open Small Parts next week.  What is Small Parts?

SMALL PARTS is inspired by the author’s real life experience directing his mother’s first play about her talking and singing diseased body parts, while learning that she was dying of ovarian cancer. Funny, heartfelt and musical, David Hudgins has taken this very personal story and created a theatrical memory play rich in little truths and big questions. At its heart, Small Parts is about the courage to face our mortality by living through our most basic of human connections.

Small Parts runs Nov. 12 – 23 at Performance Works on Granville Island.

Directed by Marisa Smith
Written by David Hudgins
Starring: Jeff Gladstone, Andrew McNee, Eileen Barrett, Lauren Jackson, Meaghan Chenosky, & Christine Reinfort

Happy International Stage Managers Day (#StageMgrs14)

Today is the 2nd annual International Stage Managers Day. Some theatre companies are handing their twitter accounts over to their SMs for the day, others brought in baked goods, swept up, or got the stars to make the places call.

However you chose to celebrate, may your blacks be dark as midnight, your actors well behaved, and your theatre ghosts friendly!

 

SMday

 

Me? I’m sending emails, scheduling meetings, and planning things – just like every day.