Theatre

#TheSummit: Vancouver Stats

For the past week my twitter feed and blogroll have been full of responses to  The Summit, a series of discussions led by Washington Post reviewer Peter Marks and hosted by Arena Stage in DC this week. The Summit put the AD’s of five of DC’s largest theatres on a stage together for a candid conversation about the state of theatre. For a great summary of the event, check out this article from DCTheatreScene.com or this response from 2amTheatre.

They  discussed many subjects that evening including attendance figures, ticket prices, season programming & subscribers, and many other relevant topics, but the one that sparked a fire was when they discussed including female playwrights.  Twitter exploded on #TheSummit when one of the AD’s in attendance made comments that there are not enough plays by females produced in New York or London and that as AD’s they needed the name recognition in order to sell a show. Other ADs made comments about there not being female-penned classics and about how many “feminist” plays are now too dated to produce.

Out of this has come a new twitter/tumblr account called LadyPlaywrights which introduces a handful of, you guessed it, Lady Playwrights every day because ignorance is not an excuse.

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.

But all of this conversation on my timeline and blog reading got me thinking: How does Vancouver measure up? DC stats show that females make up  27% of playwrights on DC stages and 33% of directors. I was certain that our stats were better than that. I mean, we have wonderful playwrights like Lucia Frangione, Michelle Riml, Lisa Ravensbergen, and Deb Williams. We have directors like Sarah Rodgers, Mindy Parfitt, Kim Collier, Anita Rochon, Carole Higgins, Chelsea Haberlin, Angela Konrad, Genevieve Flemming, Rachel Peake, Renee Iaci, Katrina Dunn, Rachel Ditor, and Lois Anderson. Surely our numbers would be higher than DC’s.

I decided to do some quick research. I looked at the 2014/2015 Season so far (beginning May 1) for all Jessie registered shows.

Here are the Vancouver stats:

35% of directors are female
24% of playwrights are female
22% of plays produced are new plays and of those only 25% are written by women

Comparatively, we have even less female playwrights and barely more female directors being produced in our city. I perceived Vancouver to have a wealth of female talent – which I still believe it does – but the numbers suggest that equal representation is still a long way off. In DC they are tackling this head on: in fall of 2015 49 companies will participate in the first ever Women’s Voices Festival. Maybe Vancouver needs to follow suit?

CAEA Dues Referendum

Monday night I attended the Vancouver Equity Dues Referendum Forum at the new Vancouver Opera rehearsal space.  There were a handful of people there, but I could easily list (without looking anywhere) the names of more equity members who weren’t present than there were people in the room. One of the questions that was asked as a part of the evening was “How do we get people to vote?” The number one thing that came up was (as it is in theatre publicity) word of mouth. We need to talk to each other about what’s going on. I figured that I have a platform (this blog), so I feel compelled to share what I learned at that forum and encourage everyone to make his or her voice heard. But this is not your last chance to hear from the team at Equity: There is still the Toronto meeting this coming Monday, Feb. 10 which will also be webcast.  For more info, head here.

In 2011 there was a similar referendum. Council approached us at that time asking us to raise basic dues from $135 to $200 per year. At that time they were looking forward and noticing that they would soon be in a position of running a deficit to simply maintain the level of service they were offering. For a referendum to pass it requires a 2/3 majority. In 2011 approx 54% of members voted in favour of raising dues: a simple majority, but not enough to pass. The primary feedback that council received at that time was that a raise of that level was too much at once on the backs of members who may not be working very much. Members said they wanted to see the raise split between working dues and basic dues.

Here we are in 2014 and CAEA is now in a position of running a deficit. They cannot continue to do what they do with the money they have. So council has come back with a proposal to try to find a balance in raising the basic dues to $180 and increasing the working dues by 2.25%. Allan Teichman, Council President, said that for members making the median income of approximately $15,000/yr this new structure would split the dues evenly (almost within the dollar) between their working and basic dues. It means that members who work more are paying more and people who are working less are paying less. As someone whose work fluctuates from year to year, I appreciate that consideration.

I am 100% in support of the raise to dues.

The steps that Equity has been taking in the past couple of years with the new Festivals policy, new Indie 2.0 and Collective agreement are great steps. I want to see them able to keep moving in this direction and they need the resources to dedicate to that.  Arden, the executive director, spoke about wanting to be able to do advocacy work whenever funding cuts occur, but again that requires resources. She also spoke about wanting to make it possible to pay dues online, but not being able to afford to do that right now. Things are gaining momentum and moving in a good direction. I’d like to see it continue to do so.

Vote today

As I’m writing this 555 members or 9.7% of the eligible voters have cast their vote. Council president Allan Teichman is hoping to see upwards of 50% turnout. Do you want to know what other equity members are thinking? Allan has been inviting people to blog on the Council Connection Blog.

 

How to Vote (It’s super easy):

  1. You must be in good standing (paid up on your dues) by Feb 13. If you’re not paid up at present, you still have over a week to get paid up. Contact membership@caea.com regarding dues payment.
  2. You should have received an envelope in the mail that has 2014 Dues Referendum on the outside of it. Inside are options to vote by Internet or by phone.
  3. If you have not received an envelope, call the Voter HelpLine at 1-800-387-1856.
  4. If you have received an envelope, take a moment to do some research by reading the EQ supplement on the referendum, Allan’s blog posts (and the guest posts) on the subject, or talking to your local council members (For BC/Yukon that’s Kerry Davidson, Scott Bellis and Jane Heyman).
  5. Go to http://www.caea.isivote.com/ or call the telephone voting number toll-free (included in your voting info letter) and vote.
  6. If you’re voting online, make sure you read all the instructions. It will ask you to confirm your vote once or maybe twice before counting it, so make sure you didn’t close the window before you’ve been counted.
  7. Spread the word. While I’m going to join the many people encouraging you to be voting Yes, whatever position you take I hope you will vote. The 2011 referendum had a voting rate of about 38%. A large restructuring vote by British Equity in 2012 had only an 8% voting rate. Make your voice heard.

If you have questions, I may not have the answers, but I’m happy to point you to those who do.

10 PuSh Memories for 10 Years of PuSh

I’m looking forward to attending the PuSh Festival’s 10th anniversary gala opening tonight, but in my excitement this week I’ve spent a lot of time thinking back on my history with the festival as a patron, volunteer, donor and artist.  I wanted (originally) to compile a “top 10″ list, but realized that I couldn’t rank my memories of the festival because my experiences – like the festival itself – are multi-disciplined and genre-bending.

  • I first connected with the festival in 2007 as a volunteer. I was in my final semester of university and not taking a lot of credits and I knew I wanted to (but couldn’t afford to) see the shows that PuSh was advertising. So I signed up as a volunteer and drove myself in from Langley something like six times to sit outside the art gallery where there was an installation or to see shows. But I got really excited about what PuSh was doing, and have been involved in some way every year since.
  • Sitting in the library courtyard during small metal objects in 2008 and watching the general public’s reaction to a bank of people watching day-to-day life through a pair of headphones.
  • The addition of Club PuSh in 2009. That year all of my volunteer shifts were at the club and I remember falling in love with the 20-minute musicals programme which, of course, went on to give birth to Do You Want What I Have Got: A Craigslist Cantata but the image of Andrew McNee in Distant Second: A Steve Fonyo Story still sticks in my head sometimes.
  • Taylor Mac’s opening show at Club PuSh.
  • Attending The Show Must Go On  in 2010 when one of my friends stood up in the audience and started dancing along with the cast.
  • Walking through gas town in 2011 as La Marea was happening. I went the first night and saw all the pieces in one order. And then I went back after each other show I saw that week to walk through it from other angles, partly because I enjoyed the piece so much and partly because the experience of having that many people on a car blocked street enjoying a show was so exciting. I still have the red PuSh festival umbrella I was given during that event.
  • Attending Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner and The Farewell Speach in 2012 after so strongly disliking the first Cheltfish show I had seen (in 2009 I think?) and then falling in love with this one.
  • Arriving with the cast of Ride the Cyclone at the hotel in 2013 and being handed a giant welcome package by the concierge (a volunteer role I filled many years) complete with a handwritten note of welcome and enough food to have a party.
  • Participating in A Western at Club PuSh in 2013. Shooting the bad guys and watching audience members die.
  • Finding myself in a financial position to make a donation of more than $20 and getting to take ownership of the festival in yet another way.

Really though, my favourite thing about the PuSh festival is that every year I fall in love with some shows and hate some shows and can’t wait to hear from the people whose opinions are so opposite mine over a glass of wine at the end of the night. Because that’s what PuSh is here for: to push our boundaries and keep us coming back for more.

What have been your favourite & least favourite PuSh festival shows over the years?

2013: Work & Other Adventures

The quote I chose to write on the wall in Calgary on our first tour stop.

The quote I chose to write on the wall in Calgary on our first tour stop.

2013 was a big year for me on the work front. It was also the first year that I had multiple confirmed projects (3!) get cancelled with only a few months notice. This certainly changed my year from going as I thought, but it also opened the door to some new opportunities.

I rang in 2013 with Atomic Vaudeville as I prepped to head out on the national tour of Ride The Cyclone. I can honestly say that I had no idea what I had gotten myself into when I signed up to stage manage that show, but it led to an amazing four months that took me to Victoria, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto (on hiatus), Winnipeg, Vernon (on hiatus), Saskatoon & Nanaimo. There are people from that tour that I miss on a daily basis.

Home sweet home!

Home sweet home!

That tour (with the help of my parents) also afforded me the opportunity to buy a condo. So when the tour ended at the end of April, I took possession of my lovely new home. I spent a week doing all the renos: new fixtures, new paint, tile on the kitchen walls, and so on and then celebrated my 27th birthday with a big ol’ party in my new home.

The wreckage that remained at the end of the show.

The wreckage that remained at the end of the show.

May ended with a trip over to Robert’s Creek on the Sunshine coast to work with The Only Animal for their part of the Obstructions series: Stupid Is As Stupid Does. My role on that show became unique from all other Stage Management I’ve done when I was asked to create a three-tiered wedding cake covered in red, white and blue roses that would be cut up with a chainsaw before being eaten. But it was a creative challenge I was excited about and I spent my evenings after rehearsal baking cakes. Our rehearsal of the cake cutting (with a practice cake) yielded hilarious results, including me covered in cake crumbs from head to toe. There may be some video of that kicking around, but sadly I do not have any of it.

Once that show was over, I jumped head first into working with the Vancouver Board of Parks & Rec on the annual Arts, Health & Seniors Gala that I’ve been coordinating for the past couple of years at the Roundhouse. This year the performances included a choir, puppets, and lots of video projects. But the funnest part of the event is always helping to serve the luncheon – especially the dessert. Everyone in the room gets so excited about dessert!

Summer was a time where two projects fell through. The way I looked at my remaining options was this: “I can stay in Vancouver and make no money sitting on my ass while my friends all work, or I can make no money going to Toronto and working my ass off with my friends and with other new connections.”  For me this was a no brainer, so I jumped on an airplane and made a temporary move to Toronto. Temporary contracts with Toronto Pride and Fringe Toronto got me off to a great start and opened the doors to all sorts of opportunities to both make friends and see shows.

The chorus of Paradises Lost.

The chorus of Paradises Lost.

And then the work started in earnest with two shows at SummerWorks Eating Pomegranates Naked and Paradises Lost. The first was the project that took me to Toronto in the first place, and the second was a glorious surprise that I didn’t expect, but I so enjoyed another opportunity to work on opera. I was frequently rehearsing seven days a week, but it was a blast. On my days away from rehearsals I was adventuring around Ontario to see friends but also associate producing Aim for the Tangent’s Mature Young Adults. In fact, I attended a rehearsal of MYA with suitcase in hand on my way to the airport to fly back to Vancouver.

My favourite photo from the circus this year.

My favourite photo from the circus this year.

12 hours after arriving in Vancouver I was on my way back out-of-town – on a ferry headed for the Sunshine Coast. I joined up with Deer Crossing The Art Farm to be the circus manager for the 2013 edition of the Rainforest Circus: Circus of Chance. That show was probably the most exercise I’ve ever gotten on a show, running through the rainforest from station to station.

Then it was a ferry back to Vancouver and straight to a production meeting and my first day of prep for Rumble Theatre’s Penelope. That show was a fantastic experience and truly disgusting – mostly because of the amount of junk food we went through every night. It also had a flaming BBQ. Which was fantastic when it worked (though sadly it didn’t always work – especially in week 2).

Next came NYET with Zee Zee Theatre and artists from across the country standing up and having a conversation about Russia’s anti-gay legislation. Such a fantastic night with an amazing group of artists.

Except in the Unlikely Event of War

Except in the Unlikely Event of War

Of course, NYET happened while I was in rehearsal for Sean Devine’s latest, Except In The Unlikely Event of War with Pi Theatre Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre. Pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve had actual lines in a play and also the first time that I’ve had an audience cheer for me at the end of the show. Thankfully I didn’t have to memorize my lines as I could read them from my prompt script every night. And every night I cursed Sean just a little bit for writing me into the play.

Mom and I taking selfies up the mountain.

Mom and I taking selfies up the mountain.

After such a busy year, I intentionally took December off to rest and regain some balance. A trip to see family for the holidays and celebrating Christmas with a Doctor Who topped Christmas tree were just a part of it.

Which brings us to today. Today was supposed to be my first day on my next gig, but it was one of the ones that got cancelled this year. Instead, I’m writing this blog, reflecting on the year that has been, and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Lois Reads the Internet: Femme Visibility & Subjectivity in Technical Theatre.

This post came my way yesterday. I immediately shared it on facebook and jumped into a couple of conversations about it on twitter. But I wanted to follow up here. So go read the whole thing, then come back so we can talk about it.

The author, sound designer Hannah Birch Carl, writes:

 ”It has been my experience that women in the field of technical theatre have more often than not rather low levels of feminine visibility (with the exception of costume designers, for which I am most often mistaken for being). Granted, the physical requirements of being a stage manager, master electrician, stagehand or any sort of theater technician tends to eliminate room for such “frivolities” as one immediately associates with femme fashion such as skirts, heels, manicures, makeup and excessive jewelry to name a few.

It’s true that such looks are impractical and potentially dangerous, but that is not an excuse for the overall dismissive attitude toward femme styling amongst those in the technical professions. What correlation could wearing lipstick possibly have to someone’s ability to do their job?”

I’ve taken to describing my personal on the job style as professional with a hint of femininity. But, as Hannah writes, I find that even the little details like ruffles on a shirt which have absolutely zero impact on my ability to climb a ladder, solve a problem or call a cue seem to be worthy of comment every time. And on a day that I wear a skirt or heels? Everyone assumes that I have a date afterwards. On days that I style my hair instead of pulling it back in a pony tail? There must be some guy I want to impress coming. And sometimes those observations are true. But more often than not I do it because I want to (or because it’s laundry day and all that’s left clean are my “nice” clothes). For example, when I was living in Toronto this summer I wore dresses almost every day and when I was working as an FOH manager no one batted an eye, but when I was SMing there were always comments or questions about the choice. I can (and sometimes do) ride my bike in a corset, who’s to say that I can’t preset props in a dress or run sound and lights with a flower in my hair?

Wearing black every day gets old. When I shop for new blacks I am always looking for function, yes, but I am also looking for something a little bit different that I won’t get so bored of: something with embroidery, lace or a little sparkle. Shoes with buttons, bows, or buckles that are also black. Shirts with a ruffle, unique buttons, a black on black textured print and sometimes I can’t find those sorts of pieces. And some days I just want to wear sweats and the show T-shirt the producers made for us to say thanks or my crew T-shirt from a previous show. And on those days I am no more or less competent than I am on the other days.

She goes on to say,

“ I don’t think I’m wrong to assume that the subtext, whether it is intended or not, is ultimately…Leave technical theater to the men and the de-feminized women… You can’t be competent with technology and wear cute shoes. You, girl, cannot be skilled, well-studied, and pretty…remember?”

And what a shame those assumptions are. I’m gonna keep putting that flower in my hair and wearing whatever I feel like wearing and know that what I wear to work each does does nothing to effect my ability to do my job. And shame on the people who think it does.

Expecting the Unexpected (Work Suddenly Wanted: Dec 1, 2013 – Feb 23, 2014)

I am a planner.  The further ahead I can plan, the happier I tend to be. So you can imagine my inner tension over trying to make a career of theatre, where things change frequently and without warning. Theatre: a world where contracts are only signed on the first day of work and until that time anything can happen. It’s certainly not a stable model on which to build a life. But this year was different for me. This year was booked up over a year in advance. Sept – June, with just enough weeks off to take some out of province/country trips to see friends (something I certainy don’t do enough of).

Sometimes I'm really classy when I'm working.

Sometimes I’m really classy when I’m working.

But then last night the unexpected happened. An email from a producer. It was longer, but the gist was: I’m sorry. The funding didn’t come through. The show is cancelled. And in a system as broken as the current state of the arts in Canada and more specifically BC, I shouldn’t be surprised. No matter how well planned a show or tour is they are at the whim of funding bodies with not nearly enough money for the number of proposals received. It doesn’t matter how far ahead the companies planned or even how carefully they planned to make the most of their money.That is the reality of theatre in Canada at any level. But I digress.

And just like that my plans go out the window. I adjust. I adapt. I re-budget.

The flip side of this, of course, is that this is potentially a very exciting opportunity to do something different. Yes, I need to work for financial reasons, sure. But I also need to work because I LIKE working. If I were to sit at home for three months I would go stir crazy.

So I’m asking for help.

I’m looking for work to fill my sudden gap from Dec. 1 – Feb. 23. I’m willing to travel to do it. Although I’m primarily a stage manager I also have experience as a production manager, event coordinator, social media consultant, teacher, FOH manager, technician, receptionist, festival coordinator, library assistant and one time I survived six weeks at Grand and Toy selling office supplies.

I didn’t expect to be here. But now that I am it’s time to embrace it. But maybe embrace it with a little help.

5 Digital Organization Tips

It’s hard to stay organized when you have lots of projects on the go. Here are five tips to help you organize your brain and your digital life.

1. Keep your files organized

If you’re anything like me, you both download many attachments and create piles of files. But how do you make sure you can find them again when you need them?

File Organization

All my show folders, organized

For me the trick is files nested inside each other and numbered. The master file for work, in my case, is called “contracts” which is followed by folders for each theatre season. Each season has every show I’ve worked on that season, numbered so that they stay in the order I did them rather than alphabetically. Inside each show’s folder are folders for schedules, breakdowns, set, rehearsal reports, props, etc. When I need to find a piece of information from a show in 2009, you can bet I know where to find it. This archival type system has proven extra useful in the case of Re:Union which is being remounted to tour this year. When an email attachment comes for a show, I save it directly to the show’s folder (which I create the day I say yes to the project) and I never have to worry about hunting through a giant downloads folder to find things. As a bonus, it keeps my desktop really clear. Job hunting contains nested folders for resumes and headshots. Invoices has nested folders for each calendar year. My goal is always to be able to find what I’m looking for as quickly as possible.

2. Keep your Inbox managed

There is nothing I find more frustrating when I sit down to work than having to sort through piles of emails to find the information I need or figure out what action needs to be taken. My solution? Keep my inbox as close to empty as possible. I do this by keeping a well organized folder system so that as soon as something is dealt with I can file it away. This allows me to quickly find the email for reference later, but helps me know that the only things in my inbox are the things I have not yet dealt with. It’s my own version of Inbox Zero. His system didn’t quite work for me, but it is what inspired me to this system.

Mail sorting system

Sorting emails: Current & Not Current

My email filing system for work is broken down to “Current” and “Not Current” and then I have folders for each show (tours get a nested folder for each city). When a show wraps, it gets moved from “Current” to “Not Current” which allows me to reference them as necessary without having them filling my inbox. Within the “Not Current” section I have folders for companies if I’ve worked with them more than once, just to limit the number of folders I look at in a glance. (I similarly have a “Friends” folder with nested folders for my friends by name.) This system has proven invaluable with shows that have later gone on to tour or been remounted in any capacity – I have all the original conversations about why we did things the way we did.

At this moment my inbox has nine emails in it. I’ve read all of them, but have not yet responded or taken the necessary action to consider them dealt with. But nine is completely manageable. I might even deal with all of them today. Pro Tip: spend 20 minutes unsubscribing from mailing lists you don’t care about (the kind that stores put you on or theatre companies that send 12 emails a week). The 20 minutes now will save you much more than that in time spent deleting emails later.Legally any “newsletter” type email has to have an unsubscribe button at the bottom, so it should be easy to do.

3. Keep an Up-to-date Calendar

When I was in Toronto last month I made plans to get together with a friend. I wrote it on one calendar, but failed to input it into my digital calendar. The day to get together came and I completely forgot that I had a plan because when I checked my daily calendar it wasn’t there. Thankfully my friend texted me to confirm plans and I was able to still go (I hadn’t booked something else at that time, thank goodness!). I’m a big fan of iCal, but that’s because it syncs so easily between my computer and my iPhone (and my iPhone is my lifeline for work), but there are lots of different calendar options.

Balancing rehearsals, a social life, and travel requires a detailed calendar

Balancing rehearsals, a social life, and travel requires a detailed calendar

I have set up a series of different “calendars,” each with a different colour, and I use them for different purposes which allows me to see at a glance when I’m working and when I’m socializing in a given week. Take the extra 15 or 20 minutes to set up more than one type of calendar and colour code them – it’s totally worth it in the long run.

The important thing isn’t what type of calendar you use (you may even prefer a handwritten agenda). The important thing is plugging everything into it and then referring to it and being consistent about your method.

4. Multiplatform Syncing

Dropbox. SugarSync. iCloud. Google Drive. GoodSync. There are dozens of options for making sure that your files are available to you on multiple devices.

I have been using Dropbox for about four years now and I love it. I originally installed it because I was in a situation where I sometimes worked at home on my laptop, but other times I was expected in the office on a company computer and emailing files back and forth to myself was getting old and I just wanted to have the most up-to-date file in both places. Cue DropBox (or any other good sync software). I now have immediate access to every file saved in my DropBox folder (which is almost everything on my computer – I have a Pro account) from my laptop, iPhone, iPad, work computer or through the website to download from a computer I’m not installed on. This is huge for me. It means I have access to my files from anywhere. Out for drinks with a colleague who asks to see the set design for the current show? No problem. I’ve got it right here on my phone. What about my resume? Yup. It’s also right here. And there’s a handy “email file” option right in the app.

5. Use an RSS Reader

If you read any blogs or news, grab yourself an RSS feed reader. Google Reader is dead, but www.feedly.com is a great replacement (and there are other options too). Basically, every time a blog or news site that you follow posts something new, this reader holds that info for you to read without you having to remember to visit each individual site. I currently subscribe to 351 sites. Imagine if I had to remember to visit each of them on a daily basis? And some of them only post once a month, but if I had to physically hunt each day to find out when there was new info, it would add hours to my week.

Categories of subscriptions

Categories of subscriptions

Instead, I go to one place and it shows me all the new content, organized by categories of my design (though I often select to view all with the most recent first).Pro Tip: “J” automatically jumps to the next article and “K” jumps back to the one before. I often just skim headlines, only reading a handful of articles a day (guaranteed to be read in full: the newest GirlsWithSlingshots comic, any reviews in the Georgia Straight, and posts by blogs in the “Friends” category). I also use my RSS feeds to search for jobs for me. For example, anything posted on Craigslist in Vancouver or Toronto that uses the word “theatre” in the description will come to my reader in addition to anything posted by the Alliance of Arts & Culture or the CITT job board. I no longer have to search these things out, they come to me.

Running off to Join the Circus

My little caravan home

My little caravan home

Circus Manager.

I’m not sure I thought that was a job title that would end up on my resume, but I’m so glad it has. After a crazy summer in Toronto, I flew back to Vancouver on Sunday and less than 12 hours later boarded the ferry to the Sunshine Coast to work with deer crossing the art farm on their annual Rainforest Circus. I’m living on the farm in an 85 square foot caravan. I wake up when the sun comes up and I go to bed when the sun goes down. It’s simple in that way.

Sunrise on the Sunshine Coast

Sunrise on the Sunshine Coast

There are no regular days on the farm – each day comes with its own set of challenges and thrills. On Tuesday morning the intern and I drove down to the beach at 8am for a pre-breakfast swim. Just because we could. On the night of the full moon we had a campfire where we roasted apples from the tree on the farm. Often when I look around I see one artist building an installation, a pair working on a scene for the circus, a group designing a display, someone else painting set pieces. From one direction is the sound of chainsaws and from another there are children playing.  But we all stop to each lunch and dinner together. It’s communal in that way.

Over the course of yesterday and today we moved from the farm down to the forest to rehearse and started to put things into place. And again, I look around to spot three people at the trapeze, two working a scene, art being installed, a sound system being tested and so on. But me? I’m moving through all of it, making sure everyone has what they need. “Did you hear that we moved that scene over to the other clearing?” “If we put the vinyl flowers here, can the wire deer go at the top of the hill?” “What if I start the music when the last audience member makes it around that curve in the path?” Small pieces, coming together to make a beautiful whole. It’s creative in that way.

And I’m so content: I’m organizing people, being invited to collaborate creatively, and laughing. Lots and lots of laughing.

I’ve been trying to document the adventure a bit, taking pictures on my iPhone. But my photos do none of it justice. They do not capture the way the arial silks artist took my breath away the first time I saw her free fall in time to the music. They don’t capture the way sound moves through the forest. They don’t give you a sense of the smell of moss, dust, and nature. They try, but fail, to give a sense of the way the light comes through the trees. But here are some of my favourites.

 

Vinyl flowers - made from CDs, laser discs, and records.

Vinyl flowers – made from CDs, laser discs, and records.

 

Sandy holds up a nearly completed deer head - all that's missing is the antlers!

Sandy holds up a nearly completed deer head – all that’s missing is the antlers!

Rehearsing on the farm.

Rehearsing on the farm.

Our arial artist rehearses on the silks

Our arial artist rehearses on the silks

 

High on the Trapeze n the woods.

High on the Trapeze n the woods.

 

Where in the World is…

The past year has been a crazy one for me. I haven’t stayed in one place very long. As I get ready to leave Toronto and head to the Sunshine Coast to really dive into another fantastic project, I couldn’t help reflecting on the crazyness of this year. So here we go:

(Week 52 is equal to Aug 26 – Sept 1, 2013)

Christopher and I at Niagara Falls (on our way to Niagara on the Lake to see Light in the Piazza)

Christopher and I at Niagara Falls (on our way to Niagara on the Lake to see Light in the Piazza)

52. Vancouver

51. Gibsons (Sunshine Coast)

50. Toronto

49. Toronto

48. Toronto/Niagara/Niagara-on-the-Lake/Stratford

47. Toronto/Ottawa

46. Toronto

45. Toronto

44. Toronto

43. Toronto

42. Anacortes/Vancouver/Toronto

With my dear friend Mel outside the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

With my dear friend Mel outside the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

41. Vancouver/Gibsons/Anacortes

40. Vancouver

39. Vancouver

38. Vancouver

37. Roberts Creek/Vancouver

36. Vancouver

35. Vancouver

34. Vancouver

33. Nanaimo/Vancouver

32. Nanaimo

Kholby and I at the closing party for Ride the Cyclone in Nanaimo.

Kholby and I at the closing party for Ride the Cyclone in Nanaimo.

31. Saskatoon

30. Vernon

29. Winnipeg

28. Winnipeg

27. Winnipeg

26. Toronto

25. Edmonton

24. Edmonton

23. Edmonton

Eating cupcakes with my best friend, Jaime, in Edmonton

Eating cupcakes with my best friend, Jaime, in Edmonton

22. Vancouver

21. Vancouver

20. Vancouver

19. Vancouver

18. Vancouver

17. Calgary

16. Victoria

15.  Paris/Victoria

14. Gotenburg/Paris

13. Zurich

Lexi and I at the top of Grossmunster with all of Zurich in the background.

Lexi and I at the top of Grossmunster with all of Zurich in the background.

12. Zurich

11. Zurich

10. London/Amsterdam

9. Vancouver

8. Vancouver

7. Vancouver

6. Vancouver

5. Vancouver

The whole family down in Mexico, together, for a week of sea and sun.

The whole family down in Mexico, together, for a week of sea and sun.

4. Puerto Vallarta

3. Vancouver

2. Vancouver

1. Vancouver

 

I’m kind of looking forward to just being in Vancouver for the next two or three months. Sleeping in my own bed. Seeing those friends on a daily basis. But the amazing thing about being constantly on the go is the number of people who become a part of your life. I’ve had to change my cell phone plan to be unlimited Canadian calling because there are too many important people in my life, spread out all across this country.

SummerWorks 2013

Things in Toronto are busy. I realized yesterday that in the month of August I will be working on five different projects. But for now I want to tell you about two of them – the two that are a part of the 2013 SummerWorks festival.

Paradises poster

Paradises Lost is a new Opera that is a part of the SummerWorks Musicals in Concert series. Based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s novella of the same name, Paradises Lost is set on the starship Discovery as it searches for a New Earth.  From the official blub:

Paradises Lost follows the 200 year journey of the starship Discovery to colonize a new uninhabited planet. The ship’s ultimate destination will experienced by future generations, but the followers of Bliss — an emerging religion on the ship — believe that they should remain inside their spaceship heaven for eternity.

This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY concert on August 13th and it is very likely to sell out.

Chorus rehearsal

Chorus rehearsal

Details:

Adapted from the novella by Ursula K Le Guin by Marcia Johnson (librettist) and Stephen Andrew Taylor (composer).
Directed by Liza Balkan.
Cast: Neema Bickersteth, Lawrence Cotton, Adanya Dunn, Jordan Fantauzzo, Chris Isaak, Topaz Kelly, Keith Klassen, Derek Kwan, Tahirih Vejdani, Xin Wang.
Chorus: Ann Bisch, Lindsay Sutherland Boal, Alexis Gordon, Stew Granger, Allison Hess, Allen Levack, Lana Sugarman, Chris Tsujiuchi.
Accompanist: Tamara Saringer
Stage Manager: Lois Dawson

pom poster

 

Eating Pomegranates Naked is the very first play by playwright Andrea Scott.  From the official blurb:

Sometimes a little white lie can turn into a grenade before you know it.

In a familiar urbanite home Sera (Marci T House) and Scott (Eli Ham) are hosting a dinner party for their friends Rushton (Awaovieye Agie) and Cassidy (Susan A. Lock) when a wine-soaked Anaar (Cherissa Richards) congratulates the expecting couple followed by moments of silences and death stares from across the table.

Eating Pomegranates Naked challenges this social circle’s position on womanhood. Directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu and written by Andrea Scott. This Toronto middle-class drama-comedy makes its debut at the 2013 SummerWorks Theatre Festival.

We have seven performances at the Lower Ossington Theatre over the course of the festival.

Details:

Author: Andrea Scott
Director: Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu
Stage Manager: Lois Dawson
Producer: Renna Reddie
Performers: Eli Ham, Marci T House, Awaovieye Agie, Cherissa Richards, Susan A Lock