Tag Archive: Carousel Theatre

Productivity, Busyness & Staying Afloat

People always say that work in the arts is either feast or famine. I often smiled and nodded when they said that, thinking to myself, “Yeah, you either have work or you don’t.”

In the first five months of 2012, I’ve lived that saying.  From January through mid-March I didn’t have any work. I was contacting companies and asking for opportunities to volunteer, but no one needed help. Those three months of famine were kind of like torture.  I thrive on busyness. multi-tasking, and six hours of sleep.

Fast forward to the present. I have 10 projects on the go. And I spent the last week feeling like I was drowning under them. Even the simplest tasks seemed like too much to handle. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t thriving like I usually do.

It hit me on Wednesday as I was at my desk in the Fringe office getting overwhelmed by the fact that this year I’m overseeing 47 companies as a part of my Fringe job. I need to stop thinking about the big picture and focus on the to-do list.  One item at a time. All of the little things will add up to the big picture.

With my newfound mantra (THINK SMALL), I took on the rest of the week with an alarming upturn in my productivity.  Items that had been on my to do list for a couple of weeks were accomplished.  In fact, everything on my to do list got accomplished. And all of a sudden it no longer felt like I was going to drown under the weight of 10 projects.  Instead it felt like I was swimming and the current was strong, but I was going to complete the race. It felt GOOD.  Some people are visionaries. I’m not. I don’t do well when I start to look at the big picture and dream about how it will all come together. I’m good at compiling a to do list of the steps to make something happen and then systematically checking them off, one at a time.

And now I’m caught up again and have even found time to write.  And after Monday I’ll be down to only nine projects on the go. And the to do list is long, but it’s totally manageable, as long as I keep my focus and don’t get distracted by things way out of my control.

By the way, if you’re looking for something to do on Monday night, come to the reading of Sean Minogue’s new play Us and Everything We Own. We’re workshopping it all weekend and then we will be doing a free, public reading at 7:30pm on Monday evening at the Carousel Theatre large studio.  The play is currently reading at about 75 minutes and has a pretty awesome cast: Pippa Mackie, Mack Gordon, Julie McIsaac, & Adam Lolacher. Come on down and support the development of new plays in Vancouver!

Three to See :: April 2010

We’re already almost a week  into April & I am in the midst of tech for Pacific Theatre‘s Refuge of Lies (which opens this Friday and you should definitely check out). All of the Ccultural Olympiad events are over now and April is a little bit slower as the city gears up for the spring/summer.

Here are the three April shows I’m most excited to see:

1. Bat Boy: The Musical (Patrick Street Productions)

At the Norman Rothstein Theatre

April 8 – 18
Tickets available at 604-684-2787 or online through Tickets Tonight.

According to the Patrick Street Productions website, the script is both farce & tragedy and deals with everything from hypocrisy & acceptance to forgiveness, racism, & revenge. But in the midst of all that, it promises slapstick, surrealism & lots of irony.  PSP has a three year history of producing fantastic musicals (Two years ago it was Into the Woods and last year’s The Full Monty).  I am excited to see what they do with Bat Boy!

2. Ali & Ali 7: Hey Brother (or Sister) Can You Spare Some Hope or Change?  (Presented by Neworld)

The Historic Theatre at The Cultch.
Apr 14–24 @ 8 PM
PREVIEW: April 13, 8 PM
Matinees: Apr 17 & 24 @ 2 PM
Tickets available online.

From the neworld website:

Worried about H1N1? Lose your shirt in the economic meltdown? No-one sublet your apartment for the Olympics? Boyfriend tell you he’s polyamorous?

Relax: Ali and Ali are back – and they’re way worse off than you. Brand New Show!

Ali & Ali 7 is the follow up to 2005’s Ali and Ali and the aXes of Evil is also created by Camyar Chai, Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef where they once more take on foreign policy with a laugh. Besides, their website promises “Come early, get a FREE TASER™.”

3. A Year with Frog & Toad (Presented by Carousel Theatre)

APRIL 17 – MAY 8, 2010
The Waterfront Theatre
1412 Cartwright Street, on Granville Island

For Ages 2 +

TICKETS 604.685.6217 or click here to buy online

From the Carousel Theatre website:
A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD follows best friends Frog and Toad on their adventures through four fun?filled seasons. Cheerful Frog and Grumpy Toad leap to life, along with the rest of their animal friends, for kite?flying, sled?racing and cookie?munching.
Waking from hibernation in the spring, these two great friends proceed to plant gardens, swim in the summer, rake leaves in
the fall, and learn life lessons along the way, including a most important one about friendship and rejoicing in the attributes that make each of us different and special.

Did I miss any shows that top your list for April? Let me know in the comments.

2009 In Review: Shows I Saw

Fringe!One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to start seeing more theatre.  I had decided that if I was really passionate about this, I probably needed to see more than 2 shows a month.  I settled on 3 per month, figuring that to be a fairly easy place to start.  I did, of course, surpass those numbers, seeing 76 plays in 2009.  That averages out to just over 6 shows per month.  Double my original goal.  Below you will see my list of shows, in nearly chronological order (some are out by a little bit, but its very close).

The shows I have seen vary. I saw plays in Canada & the USA. I saw plays at the largest local theatres (Playhouse, Arts Club, Bard),  at the smallest (Little Mountain Studios) and everything in between.  I saw kids doing Shakespeare in the park in Kamloops, I saw my first show at Vancouver Opera, I saw my first ballet in years.  I saw musicals, comedies, dramas, & horrors.  I saw mask pieces, movement pieces, character pieces, plays that were all about the set, or costumes, or script, or directing.   I saw almost everything I wanted to see (there were a few shows I missed, which I think is inevitable when one works in theatre and only has maybe 2 days a week in which to attempt to see plays).

You may wonder, how do I afford to see 6 plays a month on a stage manager’s income? I volunteer. A lot. Probably two-thirds of the shows on this list I have been able to see for free because I volunteer as an usher, bartender, a poster-puter-uper, a money counter, or whatever else the company needed.  I also have a lot of friends in theatre, so sometimes I can get free tickets for opening nights or days that they are running slow.  Probably only 20% of the shows were paid for, and half of those were at a reduced rate as an “artist” or “friend of cast” or “2-for1″ or “rush ticket” promotion.

Seeing theatre doesn’t have to be expensive.  It can be a very affordable way to spend a night out.  And, for those within the theatre community, what better way to open your next cover letter than with genuine praise for the work of the company you are applying to.

As I look forward to next year, I will probably scale back a bit.  I will probably aim for four shows per month (in the middle between 2008’s two and 2009’s six).  I saw a lot of theatre this year, but I did it at the exclusion of other things & now it is time to be pickier about my theatre and make time again for the other things I love to do.

Here is the official list of plays I saw in 2009:

1.Miss Julie: Freedom Summer (Vancouver Playhouse)
2.Skydive (Arts Club /Reelwheels/ Push)
3.5 Days in March (PuSh/Cheltfish)
4.There Came A Gypsy Riding (United Players)
5.Whale Riding Weather (Zee Zee Productions)
6.20 minute musicals (Rumble/ Push)
1. Distant Second: The Steve Fonyo Story
2. Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata
7.Bye Bye Birdie (Studio 58)
8.Medea (UBC)
9.The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac (Club Push)
10.Coriolanus (Coriolanus Equity Co-op {Mad Duck Collective})
11.Shocker’s Delight (Squidamisu)
12.Beggars at the House of Plenty (Evolving Arts Collective)
13.East of Berlin (Tarragon/Touchstone/Firehall)
14.Rigoletto (Vancouver Opera)
15.Under The Hawthorne Tree (The Two Marys)
16.Munsch Alley (Carousel theatre)
17.The Idiots Karamazov (UBC)
18.Death of a Clown (ITSAZOO)
19.The Real Thing (Arts Club)
20.Where The River Meets The Sea (Presentation House)
21.LifeSavers (Ruby Slippers)
22.Earnestine Shushwap Gets Her trout (Firehall Arts Centre)
23.John & Beatrice (Pi Theatre)
24.Secret World of Og (Carousel Theatre)
25.36 Views (Tempus Theatre)
26.Antigone Undone (Leaky Heaven Circus)
27.Fat Pig (Mitch & Murray Equity Co-op)
28.Les Miserables (Arts Club)
29.Top Girls (Vancouver Playhouse)
30.Palace of the End (Felix Culpa, Touchstone Theatre, & Horseshoes & Hand Grenades)
31.Othello (Bard on the Beach)
32.The Tempest (2-bite Bard)
33.SchoolHouseRock Live (Small Nest Productions @ Edmonton Fringe)
34.Rent (Fighting Chance Productions)
35.Macbeth (Limbo Circus Theatre)
36.Orestes (Cambiare Productions)
37.Unidentified Human Remains; or, the True Nature of Love (20 Something Theatre)
38.Alls Well That Ends Well (Bard on the Beach)
39.Dog Sees God (Fighting Chance Productions)
40.Kicked (Project X)
41.The Saddest Girl in the World
42.Circus x2 (Cabbage Under Heavy Fire)
43.Nggrfg (Small Brown Package)
44.Drinks with Friends (Whirlwind Productions)
45.Lavignia: A Modern Fairy Tale of Gigantic Proportions (Sticky Fingers Production)
46.Some Reckless Abandon (Over the Moon Productions)
47.Cabaret of Bullshit (Vancouver Fringe)
48.Caberlesque! (BSide Productions)
49.AfterLife (Sunset Gun Productions)
50.murder, hope (Infinity Live Productions)
51.The Veil (Presentation House & OneLight Theatre)
52.Midsummer (The Cultch & Traverse Theatre Company)
53.The House of Kosa (TigerMilk Collective)
54.Gift of Screws
55.The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Pacific Theatre)
56.Any Night (Touchstone, DualMinds & The Cultch)
57.Lot’s Wife (Studio 58)
58.Love You Forever & More Munch (Carousel Theatre)
59.Becky’s New Car (Artists Repertory Theatre – Portland)
60.Evil Dead: The Musical (Downstage Right Productions)
61.Anatomy of Gray (TWU Theatre)
62.Master Builder (UBC)
63.Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour DreamCoat (Footlights Theatre Company)
64.The Big League (Carousel Theatre)
65.The Project (Solo Collective)
66.Moulin Rouge: the Ballet (Royal Canadian Ballet)
67.These Walls Are Paper Thin (Critical Mask & Mind of a Snail)
68.The Vertical Hour (United Players)
69.King Arthurs Kitchen (Axis Theatre)
70.Demon Voice (Touchstone Theatre)
71.After The Quake (Pi Theatre/Rumble Productions)
72.Wired (Green Thumb Theatre)
73.A Winter’s Tale (Studio 58)
74.Robin Hood (Carousel Theatre)
75.A Beautiful View (Ruby Slippers Theatre)
76.Anne (Chemainus Theatre Festival)

Previously: 2009 in Review: Work

What I Saw :: November

November.  Not only did I open The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe at PT & then spend an additional week prepping the understudies and opening their version of the show for school matinees. I also managed to see 10 shows.

Here’s the list:

  1. Master Builder (UBC)
  2. Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour DreamCoat (Footlights Theatre Company)
  3. The Big League (Carousel Theatre)
  4. The Project (Solo Collective)
  5. Moulin Rouge: the Ballet (Royal Canadian Ballet)
  6. These Walls Are Paper Thin (Critical Mask & Mind of a Snail)
  7. The Vertical Hour (United Players)
  8. King Arthurs Kitchen (Axis Theatre)
  9. Demon Voice (Touchstone Theatre)
  10. After The Quake (Pi Theatre/Rumble Productions)

The only ones that are still playing are After the Quake  (which is unfortunately for all of you sold out for the rest of its run.  I hope you all have caught it as it is one of the best things I’ve seen all year!) & The Vertical Hour at United Players which is a really enjoyable evening of theatre.

The October To-See List

IMG_1452It’s officially fall. The leaves on the tree beside my balcony are turning yellow and the theatre season has kicked into high gear.  As I began going through the lists of what is playing in Vancouver this month I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount happening.   It seems to me that the volume of good theatre in Vancouver is increasing, and this can only be a good thing (though I’m not sure how I’m ever going to have time to see everything I want to). There are also a number of productions happening at post-secondary institutions that I am going to try to fit in.  This is in part because I have friends in this productions, but it is also because it is an opportunity to see the people who will be shaping our theatre community within the next couple of years.

Lot’s Wife (Studio 58) – A modern re-telling of the biblical story of Lot & his family (from the Soddom and Gommorah period – She of the famous pillar of salt).

Love You Forever…and More Munsch (Carousel Theatre) – 6 favorite Robert Munsch stories on stage. And this time featuring the first book I ever memorized: Love you Forever. (I still have the copy my parents were given when I was born).

Any Night (DualMinds, Touchstone & The Cultch) – The team behind this production is outstanding, the play itself won the “Best New Work” award at SummerWorks 2008 in Toronto.  It’s a psychological thriller that looks at privacy, paranoia & the role of the subconscious.

Gift of Screws – It’s two one act plays by local playwright Bill Marchant. And it is already allowing you to be a part of the process with videos from behind the scenes.  Just see it.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Pacific Theatre & Pound of Flesh) – It’s a staged reading, but with a cast of Vancouver’s most well know and respected performers, it’s sure to be interesting. The concept:  Judas is on trial for betraying Jesus, but the witnesses span the centuries.

The Miracle Worker (Vancouver Playhouse) – It’s a classic. It’s also being done in Kamloops this year.  But this production is directed by Meg Roe, whose directorial debut with The Tempest last year remains one of my top theatre experiences.

Anatomy of Gray (Trinity Western Theatre) – Trinity is my alma matter so I always try to see their shows, but department chair Angela Konrad is a fantastic director and is at the helm of this play. I always look forward to shows she directs.

Evil Dead – The Musical  (either of the two productions)  – I don’t want to get political about this, choosing one production over the other. If you want more details about what’s happening with this, check out Rebecca’s blog.

The House of Kosa (TigerMilk Collective) – I love seeing shows at Vancouver’s PAL theatre because it is such a unique performance space.  The play is about haute couture and is by another local playwright.

In addition to my regular Vancouver list I’m hoping to see a couple of shows in Portland. I have plans to head down for a week to visit friends from University and I always try to take in a show when I am down there. We’ll see what I can fit in this time. If you know of any great shows playing in Portland mid-October, drop me a note and let me know – I’d love to check them out.

Carousel Theatre’s Seussical is a Real Treat For Young & Young at Heart

Left: Gertrude McFuzz (Alison MacDonald) and The Cat in the Hat (Jeremy Lowe) battle it out in Carousel Theatre’s SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL. Photo by Tim Matheson

Working full time in theatre means that it is rare for me to have to the time to make it out to see the work that other companies are doing, even if I want to. Last year, when Carousel Theatre staged Seussical: The Musical I wanted to attend, but being in the midst of my own work I couldn’t seem to make the time. And I regretted it each time I thought about it (or was told how great it was).

When I first hear that they were doing a remount this year, I told myself that I had to make sure to go, but I kept putting it off. Luckily for me, my roommate kicked my butt into gear with a glowing review of the show, and I quickly bought myself a ticket for the only performance that fit within my show schedule. I am so glad that I did.

I arrived at the theatre and the first thing I saw was a pair of small children – aged three and five – who were asking their grandmother how many minutes it would be until the play started. Every minute. (For those who are suggesting that theatre audiences are dying off [literally!], I would say that these children are the future and we need to do whatever we can to keep them that excited to see a play.)

I took great pleasure in eavesdropping on the children sitting around me as I thumbed through my program. The excitement in their voices as they slowly noticed things on the set & the sense of wonder at what they were about to see:

“Look Nana – did you see the flowers along the front of the stage?! I bet they’re the clovers!”

“I see the hat! The hat for the cat in the hat! I see it! Do you?!”

“There’s smoke in front of that light. That’s cuz someone is smoking in the theatre, but I don’t see them.” (Really it was a hazer, but hey – the kid’s quite observant.)

As the houselights dimmed, the room buzzed with excitement. And I found myself wishing I’d had the same opportunities as a kid to see professional theatre. (Though I thought the local high school was AMAZING & looked forward to each production they did that allowed kids to attend.)

For those who don’t know what Seussical is about, the program describes it like this:

Our Master of Ceremonies, The Cat in the Hat, pops up and narrates our story from every which way! The play follows Horton the Elephant as he begins a quest to save the people of Whoville, who happen to live on a tiny speck of dust that is floating uncontrollably through the air! Horton befriends and protects the tiny Whos on a clover, even though his Jungle of Nool neighbours think he’s crazy. Even more trouble arises when Horton is given an unexpected task – the biggest task of all!

The cast, which includes Allan Zinyk as Horton the Elephant, Alison MacDonald as Gertrude McFuzz, Jeremy Lowe as The Cat in the Hat, and 10 year old Brian Riback as JoJo (a who-boy who thinks really big thinks!), was fantastic. In the large opening number”Oh The Thinks You Can Think” as they all sang and danced, I knew I was going to enjoy myself becuase I was in good hands.

One of the things that I loved about the production were the costumes for the animals in the Jungle of Nool. Rather than trying to create realistic animal costumes, designer Barbara Clayden uses slightly altered modern clothing to give us a feel for the animals. For example, Sour Kangaroo’s ears are created by the way a bandanna was tied on her head & Horton’s elephant ears are the flaps on his toque.

My favourite moment in the play was when Horton the Elephant and JoJo sing their duet, Alone in the Universe. They each discover a friend for the first time & the stars in the sky twinkle. And boy, can they both sing!

I won’t give away the ending, but suffice to say, Seussical is a feel good treat for the whole family, especially children, or children at heart.

Seussical: The Musical runs at the Waterfront Theatre until January 3. Tickets at www.ticketmaster.ca or by phone at 604-685-6217.

Right: Horton hears the Whos! (The Company).
Photo by Tim Matheson