Tag Archive: Pi Theatre

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.

2011 in Review: Theatrical Excellence

I’m not a critic or reviewer.  That has never been my goal in writing this blog. If you’re looking for some of the critics 2011 lists, I’ve found the one for The Georgia Straight, The Globe and Mail, Gay Vancouver and The Vancouver Courier.

Each year I wonder how to recognize the truly excellent work I see each year. I’ve tried a top ten list (2009). I’ve tried a top six list (2010). Neither felt quite right for what I wanted to say. So now I try again. Another year. Another format. Let’s see if I can’t take some inspiration for the annual “Best of Vancouver” and make my own “Best of Vancouver Theatre” list.

The cast of Ride the Cyclone. Photo from the official Ride the Cyclone blog

Best Show that Everyone Agrees is the BestRide the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudeville)
I am a stingy standing ovation giver, but this show had me on my feet before the curtain call lights even came up. Why is this little show from Victoria topping critics list across the country? Biting humor. Vivid characters. Song and dance numbers so varied in tone/style/content that you never know where you’ll be next. The best “turn your cell phones off” speech ever. EVER. A cast that takes the quirky and makes it both heart-breaking and hilarious, all the while singing and dancing. The show uses low-tech/budget tricks to great result and the indie feel is definitely part of its charm. I went into this show having been told that it was fantastic, but I remember saying to myself, “Okay.  Now you know it might not be everything you’ve been told it is.  Let go of your expectations.”  And the best part was that it exceeded every one of those expectations.

The Best “Theatrical Experience” - La Marea (Boca del Lupo with Mariano Pensotti for the PuSh Festival)
Walking into the zero-block of water street for that week in January was like nothing else I have experienced in going to the theatre. Both ends of the busy street closed down. People everywhere. Giant flood lights light the street and then like the flip of a breaker the flood lights go out and music begins, theatre lights pop on to unexpected places, and projected surtitles appear. Each of the nine scenes were only 10 minutes long, but you had to walk the whole block to see them, and depending which end of the street you started at you had a different experience.  I’m sure it was a logistical challenge (kudos to the stage management/production management team for pulling it off!) but the effect was so stunning I went back down to the block two more nights just to watch people interact with the piece. My favourite thing was seeing people who had no idea that their favourite restaurant’s patio was now playing home to a play and that by eating there they had inadvertently become extras. Or people who just happened to be out walking in the Gastown neighbourhood asking a volunteer what exactly was going on and deciding to stay and see what all the fuss was. Most of the nights the block was wall-to-wall people and when it threatened to rain they were ready – volunteers were standing by handing out branded umbrellas. Free. Outdoors. Huge. La Marea redefined the possibilities for me.

Honorable Mention – Party This Weekend (The House Party Collective) – Was it a show or a house party? It was really a bit of both. With four intertwining story lines, a house and its yard for the set, and lots of audience interaction it was a fantastic experience!

Circa. Image provided.

Best Show I Still Can’t Categorize - Circa (Circa at PuSh Festival)
This wasn’t my first time seeing Circa perform as a part of the PuSh festival, but as always they defy being easily labelled.  The Australian company defines themselves as “circus that moves the heart and soul” but their performance lends itself to comparisons to both theatre and dance.  No matter what you call it though,  it elicited an audible response from myself and from others in the audience as the performers flung themselves through the air at each other or moved a single muscle so specifically that it could be noticed from the back of the theatre. It was an absolutely stunning night.

Honorable Mention – Dress Me Up In Your Love – Theatre Replacement – Part story-telling, part fashion show, part music, I found this show at times hilarious, at times moving and I never need to see Andrew McNee in a tight dress again.

The Best Piece of Dance for Sitting on the Edge of Your Seat - Emergence (Crystal Pite for the National Ballet of Canada’s 60th Anniversary Tour)
My dance knowledge is really very limited, but I take whatever opportunity I can to attend dance. Crystal Pite’s Emergence, the final of four pieces on the National Ballet of Canada’s 60th Anniversary Tour had me on the edge of my seat the moment it started. Intricate. Precise. Stunning. It was one of those pieces where I didn’t want to blink because I was afraid that I would miss something amazing.

Honorable Mention – Moth (Donald Sales for Ballet BC‘s 25th Anniversary) – A bare bulb dangling on stage. Sign Language and Silent Screams. This ballet exploration of grief was breath-taking.

Ingrid Hansen acting with Celery. Photo by Al Smith.

Best of the Fringe Fest - Little Orange Man (Snafu Dance Theatre)
The Fringe is a funny festival in the sense that it really is a free for all.  Anyone can do a show. You can end up seeing ANYTHING on stage. But when Ingrid walked on stage and began using a piece of bread to tell us a story, I wasn’t prepared for how touching this show would be.  Yes, it had celery sticks as characters and involved Ingrid climbing out of a giant suitcase.  It had some of the funnest low-tech magic that I’ve seen on stage in a while, and its not every day that you watch an audience hold tiny shoes in the air and conjure up small children.  The show left me feeling wistful for childhood and delighted to see what Ingrid will think up next.

Honorable Mention – Peter ‘n’ Chris and the Mystery of the Hungry Heart Hotel (Peter ‘n’ Chris) – C’mon….they have flashy jackets, can do a slow motion car crash, and are funny.  What more do you need from your Fringe experience?

Best Show for An Audience of 15 or Less - Tape (Alley Theatre)
Crammed into a small room at the Waldorf Hotel with 11 other audience members plus this cast of three, being in the room as they fought was an exhilarating experience.  It’s what site-specific theatre does when at it’s best – puts you right there with the characters, knowing that there is no other place in which this story would have as much impact.

Honorable Mention – Whale – Kyle Jespersen – In the intimate Anderson Street Space, writer and performer Kyle Jespersen took us door-to-door selling Bibles and waiting for a sign.  I believe it was a show in progress and the note I wrote to myself that night after the show was “I can’t wait to see what this turns into.”

Rumble Productions' Community Dinner. Photo provided.

Best ReInvention of Genre - Community Dinner (Rumble Productions with Boca del LupoElectric Company TheatreNeworld Theatre & MOSAIC)
This was not like any “dinner theatre” you have ever been to before, I would guarantee it. The four companies who share the Progress Lab space teamed up with MOSAIC – an organization that seeks to empower recent immigrants – and for three months prior to the show teams comprised of professional actors and newcomers to Canada met up, learned how to prepare various ethnic recipes, and created a short piece of theatre connected to the recipe.  Each of the four pieces was as diverse as the companies they came from, and at the end of the night the cast and audience sat down to a meal of the food that had been prepared in front of them.

Honorable Mention – Visions of Vancouver – Pi Theatre - Performed for a live audience these radio plays were also recorded for FREE release as podcasts. With a simple staging and at times with script in hand, these four actors performed in a way that worked live and that works in an audio-only medium.

Best Show to Make Me Want New Toys - Wicked (Broadway Across Canada)
I don’t know how, as a person who cares about the technical side of theatre at all, it is possible to see a show like Wicked and NOT want to play with all their toys. The choreography of the set pieces alone was stunning and the costumes were so intricate. The sheer calibre and artistry of all involved made it such a visual feast to go along with such a well loved musical. The whole experience was so lovely.  I enjoy seeing the big broadway shows when they come to town, but this one topped many of them for being so on the ball technically.

Honorable Mention – Penny Plain – Ronnie Burkett at the Cultch – With 24 custom made marionnettes, I don’t think you can see one of Ronnie’s shows and not want to play with them, or at the very least examine the intricate strings that allow the performer to make even a pinky finger move.

Best Show to Give Multiple Standing Ovations – Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Glass City Theatre)
As someone who rarely gives a standing ovation, it is even more rare for me to do so more than once for the same production.  Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train got two or three from me during its three week run. It was a heart-breaking ride that moved me over and over again as I saw it and that continues to challenge my opinions.

 

Other Year In Review Posts:
Hard Work
What I Saw 

 

2011 in Review: Shows I Saw

Last year when I wrote about all the shows I had seen, I set forth a two part goal.  I wanted to achieve balance in my hobbies and I wanted to end the year with no regrets in regards to my theatre viewing.

Now here we are at the end of the year and even though I saw more shows than ever I’d say I did do better in finding balance.  Part of the reason that makes sense is that instead of stage managing all year I spent 5 months working for the Vancouver Fringe.  For the most part it was a day job which left my evenings free to see some awesome theatre.

But I do have a handful of shows that I regret not seeing.  I missed the work of the guys at Main Street Theatre for the second year in a row.  I missed Death of a Salesman at the Playhouse. I didn’t go see Ride the Cyclone more than once. I didn’t see Wonderheads during the Fringe (but lucky for me they won an award and will be at the Cultch next year!). I missed Wicked Shorts. 

For the first time in a couple of years, my list is entirely West Coast – I didn’t make it out to Edmonton or Toronto this year, which I regret, but I’m looking forward to more travel in the coming year – including my first ever trip to Europe!

Here they are – the 155 performances I attended in 2011, in something close to chronological order.

La Marea at the PuSh Festival. Photo by Flickr user jmv

  1. Wee Tube (Theatre Replacement)
  2. La Marea (Boca Del Lupo/PuSh Festival/Mariano Pensotti)
  3. The Pavillion (Osimous Theatre/Firehall Theatre)
  4. Iqualit (Berlin/PuSh Festival)
  5. Circa (Circa/UBC/PuSh Festival)
  6. 100% Vancouver (PuSh Festival/Rimini Protokoll/Theatre Replacement)
  7. Tuesdays With Morrie (Gallery 7 Theatre)
  8. Dead Man’s Cell Phone (UBC)
  9. Floating (Hugh Hughes/Arts Club/PuSh Festival)
  10. Bonanza (Berlin/PuSh Festival)
  11. Whale (Boca del Lupo/Kyle Jesperson)
  12. Gloria’s Cause (Club PuSh/Donya Hansen)
  13. City of Dreams (Roundhouse/PuSh Festival/Peter Reder)
  14. My Name is Asher Lev (Pacific Theatre)
  15. Hard Core Logo: Live (November Theatre/Touchstone Theatre/Theatre Network/PuSh Festival)
  16. Avenue Q (Touring Broadway Production)
  17. August: Osage County (Arts Club)
  18. Peter Panties (The Cultch/PuSh Festival/Leaky Heaven/Neworld)
  19. Clemenzia di Tito (Vancouver Opera)
  20. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Blackbird/Arts Club)
  21. Nocturne (20 Something Theatre)
  22. The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Fighting Chance Productions)
  23. Swimmy, Frederick & Inch by Inch (Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia)
  24. Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Glass City Theatre)
  25. Quiet in the Land (Gallery 7)
  26. Cinderella (Vancouver Opera in Schools)
  27. Wild Honey (UBC)
  28. Cinderella (Exit 22 at Capilano University)
  29. Chairs (Itsazoo)
  30. The Philanderer (Arts Club)
  31. 1984 (Virtual Stage/Studio 58 at the Cultch)
  32. Evelyn Strange (StairCaseXI)
  33. The Last 15 Seconds (MT Space Theatre/Firehall Arts Centre)

    The Last 15 Seconds at the Firehall. Photo from http://bikesbirdsnbeasts.blogspot.com/

  34. Under The Influence Cabaret (20 Something)
  35. The Bacche (TWU)
  36. Another Home Invasion (Arts Club/Tarragon)
  37. Jake’s Gift (PT/Juno Productions)
  38. The Forbidden Phoenix (Gateway Theatre)
  39. Rosmershom (United Players)
  40. Letters from a Soldier; My Name is Aslam (Stones Throw Productions)
  41. The Trespassers (Vancouver Playhouse/Belfry)
  42. Ballet BC’s 25th Anniversary (Ballet BC)
  43. Scared Scriptless (Vancouver Theatresports League)
  44. Dress Me Up In Your Love (Theatre Replacement)
  45. The Graduate (Arts Club)
  46. The Wiz (Fighting Chance)
  47. My Funny Valentine (Zee Zee Theatre)
  48. Tape (Alley Theatre)
  49. Side Show (Pacific Theatre)
  50. Mambo Italiano (Firehall/WCT)
  51. Prodigals (20-Something Theatre)
  52. Love/Stories (Kineticism)
  53. Beautiful Problems (Radix Theatre)
  54. The Great Divorce (Pacific Theatre)

    Pacific Theatre's "The Great Divorce" Photo provided.

  55. Eurydice (Secretly Women)
  56. Macbeth: Nacht Shakespeare (Theatre Conspiracy)
  57. Hairspray (Arts Club theatre)
  58. What we leave behind (Lamondance)
  59. Community Dinner (Rumble Productions)
  60. Wicked (Broadway Across Canada)
  61. A guide to Mourning (Genus/Enlightenment Theatre)
  62. Merchant of Venice (Bard)
  63. A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline (Arts Club)
  64. BridgeMix (Itsazoo)
  65. Matchmaker (Gallery 7)
  66. Verona Project (Stones Throw)
  67. Bash: Latter Day Plays (Hardlines Theatre)
  68. Bye Bye Birdie (TUTS Vancouver)
  69. The Casino/The Disappearing (Stones Throw)
  70. Party This Weekend (The House Party Collective)
  71. Project X (Faust) (Leaky Heaven Circus)
  72. Other Side Through You (Cat Main)
  73. Visitors (Walking Fish 2011)
  74. At First I Thought It Was (Walking Fish 2011)
  75. Armed  (Walking Fish 2011)
  76. The Gas Heart (Gas heart Theatre)
  77. Homecoming King
  78. Chairs  (Itsazoo) (The revised version)
  79. My Pregnant Brother (Freestanding Productins)
  80. Compassion for Killers (Whirlwind Productions)
  81. Anything Goes (TUTS Vancouver)

    Anything Goes at TUTS. Photo credit unknown.

  82. Troika and The Troubles (Some of the New Bees/Resounding Scream)
  83. Flop! A one man musical (New Hands Theatre)
  84. Bare: a pop opera (Fighting Chance)
  85. When I Was (Les Petite Taquines)
  86. Richard III (Bard on the Beach)
  87. Kunst Rock (Die Roten Punkte/The Cultch)
  88. Sea of Sand (The Only Animal)
  89. As You Like It (Bard on the Beach)
  90. Cativo (Hardline Productions)
  91. Tough (20-Something Theatre)
  92. The Selkie Wife
  93. Trouble in Tahiti (VanCoCo)
  94. Archy & Mehitable
  95. Yum/Yuck
  96. Oh That Wily Snake!
  97. Jigsaw
  98. The Sparrow and the Mouse
  99. Phone Whore
  100. Screaming Silently
  101. wreckage

    Nita Bowerman's Fringe show "wreckage". Photo by Brendan Albano.

  102. This is Cancer
  103. Jesus In Montana
  104. Short & Sweet
  105. The Progressive Polygamists
  106. The Animal Show
  107. Rove
  108. Stay Away from my Boat, @$$hole (ItsaZoo/Vancouver Fringe)
  109. The Razzle Tassel Tease Show
  110. Lost in Place
  111. Duck Off
  112. Fruitcake
  113. The Mystery of the Hungry Heart Hotel (Peter ‘n’ Chris/Vancouver Fringe)
  114. Smile (Awkward Stage Productions/Vancouver Fringe)
  115. Tinfoil Dinosaur
  116. The Other Side
  117. Houdini’s Last Escape (Monster Theatre/Vancouver Fringe)
  118. Night of the B Movie
  119. The Devil & Billy Markham
  120. Giant Invisible Robot
  121. Sally Lives Here
  122. Mr. Kinski’s Cabaret of Bullshit (Vancouver Fringe)
  123. Acrobatic Daredevils

    The Acrobatic Daredevils at the Fringe. Photo by flickr user arianec

  124. Oh My God (Delinquent Theatre/Vancouver Fringe)
  125. Fortunate Son
  126. Willow’s Walk: Ripples in Time
  127. Arnie the Carnie’s House of Fun
  128. Next To Normal (Arts Club Theatre)
  129. Tuesdays with Morrie (Gallery 7 at Pacific Theatre) (The Remount)
  130. National Ballet of Canada’s 60th Anniversary Tour (National Ballet/Ballet BC)
  131. Little Orange Man (Snafu Dance Theatre/Vancouver Fringe)
  132. The Light in the Piazza (Patrick Street Productions)
  133. Circle Mirror Transformation (Arts Club Theatre)
  134. Ride the Cyclone (Atomic Vaudville)
  135. True Love Lies (Touchstone Theatre at the Cultch)
  136. A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum (Fighting Chance Productions)
  137. Visions of Vancouver (Pi Theatre)
  138. Love Lies Bleeding (Alberta Ballet)
  139. West Side Story (Vancouver Opera)
  140. Romeo and Juliet (TWU)
  141. 50 Words (Mitch & Murray  Equity Coop)
  142.  Falling in Time (Screaming Weenie)
  143. Vimy (Firehall Arts Centre)
  144. The Outsiders (Gallery 7 Theatre)
  145. Penny Plain (Ronnie Burkett)
  146. Mary’s Wedding (Gateway)
  147. Blood Brothers (Arts Club)
  148. The Patron Saint of Stanley Park (Arts Club Theatre)
  149. A Christmas Carol (Pacific Theatre)
  150. La Cage aux Folles (Playhouse Theatre)

    The wonderful Greg Armstrong Morris in La Cage aux Folles. Photo provided.

  151. Hotel Bethlehem (Ruby Slippers Theatre)
  152. Sound of Music (Gateway Theatre)
  153. Christmas Carol Project (Brass Monkey Productions at the Cultch)
  154. The Gift Horse (Caravan Farm Theatre)
  155. Christmas Presence (Pacific Theatre)

I am already excited about what is to come in 2012.  My first booking of the year is for Blackbird Theatre’s Waiting for Godot.

SMArts: The CTA & Stage Management

If you’re reading this post, I’m going to assume that you know at least a little bit about how the Canadian theatre system works, who Equity is, etc. If you’re looking for more information on that, I’m probably not the most qualified to answer the questions, but I’m happy to point you the right direction.

The Canadian Theatre Agreement (CTA) is the equity agreement that governs any production by a member company of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT). In BC this is everyone from Pi Theatre to the Vancouver Playhouse to Touchstone to Carousel. Within the CTA there are regulations for everything from how many hours a day you can rehearse to under what circumstances someone can be fired to how to deal with on-stage nudity.

As a stage manager, your job is to not apply the CTA when you don’t know what the answer is. The association has the responsibility to answer questions and get back to you with an answer. It is equity’s job to intercede if people are unhappy with the solution that’s been reached

Ultimately the theatre is responsible for the behaviour of their organization and you are their EMPLOYEE. It is the management that holds the financial and moral obligation to everyone within their employ.

A little bit of general information about the CTA:

  • It’s a scale agreement rather than a collective agreement
    • This means that it negotiates the bottom of how a theatre will work. It says “You cannot be paid any less than $XXX.XX.” “You cannot work any more than XX hours/day.” It does not stop you from negotiating a higher rate of pay, less hours/day, better benefits, etc.
  • Equity regulates the working conditions for Stage Managers, Directors, Fight Directors, Choreographers & Performers in Theatre, Opera & Dance.
  • There are 21 different agreements & policies of which the CTA is the bread and butter of the theatre agreements and is a fully professional agreement.

The CTA, like other Equity agreements is broken down so that it is easier to search. First it is divided into Articles which are large subjects/overarching areas. These are marked with a single number (1, 2, 3, 4, etc). Article 63 is Stage Management. Within those Articles it is divided into clauses which are marked by the number, a colon and then another number (63:01, 63:02, etc). And then within the clauses it breaks down into sub-clauses & sub-sub-clauses.

When you run into an issue and are turning to the CTA for guidance it is important to go through in process. Something given as a solution in a clause is the first thing to look at before moving on to anything listed in a sub or sub-sub clause.

At the conference we then spent a chunk of our time talking about the different stage management clauses. Specifically we looked at overtime and how that is to be administered, the required rehearsal conditions, contracts and how to calculate the length of day.

Personally, I don’t often work in CTA houses (with the exception, thus far, of my work with pi theatre), but I find it very valuable to have a better understanding of the regulations that are in place in those situations. Many of the clauses were created to protect the artists (which include the stage manager!) and therefore it is well worth my time to implement as many of those as I can in other settings, regardless of the company’s relationship with equity. No, I’m not about to go around saying that I must be payed overtime & meal infringements when I’m working on a co-op, but keeping track of the length of day that I work and ensuring that I take some time to take care of myself is an important thing.

UPDATE: To view the CTA online in its full form, head over to http://caea.com/EquityWeb/EquityLibrary/Agreements/Theatre/TheatreLibrary.aspx

4 Projects. 1 Short Day.

Today was one of those days when every project I’m working up ganged up on me.

Photo by flickr user DBarefoot. Used under creative commons licence.

Last night was closing for Hive 3.  I did the math: in a week and a half we did 70 performances of House/Home.  Three weeks ago the show didn’t exist and now it no longer exists, except as a text document outlining the movements & as a few photos.  This morning we packed up the last of our stuff out from the venue and it was sad to say good bye to the whole thing. But that’s the reality of the impermanence of theatre.

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Today in Vancouver there was a series of panels called Backstage with Jackson where local theatre practicioners discuss what it’s like to make a life in the theatre. I sat in for the 1pm panel to do a live blog for the official World Theatre Day site.  One of my favourite comments was from Kenji Maeda who said,

“I think that using new media or projections or new techniques brings in new audiences which is very important. I think if we are not adapting to what the community – or younger audiences are seeing – if they think theatre is only Shakespeare or kids wearing flowers or being a clown, then they are going to be turned off of theatre. I think new media is one way of doing it. But I also think that marketing traditional theatre in a new way is another angle. Theatre is about reflecting what the community is at a specific time.”

It’s interesting at least in part because it ties into the whole conversation about theatre marketing that’s been happening over on Simon’s blog.

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Glass City Theatre. That was another two hour meeting and a whole lot of brain food for the next week.  What are my skills? What responsibilities do I want to take on? Am I really ready for this? Does it matter? What have I gotten myself into? THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.

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Rehearsals for Refuge of Lies start tomorrow at Pacific Theatre. I’m almost ready.  I want to do some baking for first read tomorrow, and I have a little bit more paperwork to do. But I am feeling more confident about being ready for these rehearsals than I have before.  Of course, that usually means I’m totally forgetting about something, but I’m going to choose happy ignorance for the moment.

And now it’s 8:49pm and I’m sitting here wondering where today went and whether I should be doing something more useful than blogging & watching Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. So far I can’t figure out anything more useful than Neil Patrick Harris & Joss Whedon singing a commentary to me while I bake, so I’m going to do that.

What the critics are saying: House/Home (Hive3)

Pi Theatre’s House/Home is a terrific mix of movement, music and a short story both sweet and sad. As an audience of about a dozen stands at the foot of a staircase, we don headphones to watch as a husband (Todd Thomson) and wife (Sasa Brown) try to engage in marriage. The set by Roxana Chapela is a slice of an up-and-down duplex, and director Richard Wolfe weaves Chris Hind’s sound design into something made more interesting by the clever use of dancer-singer Jacqueline Breakwell as a kind of burlesque muse.

- Peter Birnie, Vancouver Sun.

House/Home goes beyond its clichés when it peeks into the characters’ interior thoughts, which we hear in voice-over.

- Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight

Ah, love. Ah, domestic bliss. What becomes of it? In this dark, musical look at marriage in its not-so-early stages, a husband (Todd Thomson) and wife (Sasa Brown) perform a dance of dissatisfaction, up and down stairs, through windows, and in bathroom and tool-shed sanctuaries. He’s the coolest guy in the office and she comes up with three different meals every day, but lying in bed at night, they are both tortured. “Do we have to do this for the rest of our lives?” she wonders. They are serenaded by a manly/womanly Jacqueline Breakwell and by the end of this show, they will each bare all in different ways.

- Marsha Lederman, Globe & Mail

I also liked Pi Theatre’s “House/Home”, which was kind of a burlesque pop-up book of a playlet.

- Darren Barefoot

House/Home is Pi Theatre’s contribution to Hive 3 which runs until March 20th at Great Northern Way.  Tickets are selling fast so get yours now at www.vancouvertix.com.

“Thanks to a silver key I acquired earlier in the evening I was able to gain access to Pi Theatre‘sHouse/Home. … A inventive set design, great performances, and nuanced yet universal content add up to a great show…HIVE 3 is the best bang for your buck Vancouver has to offer. The alternative theatre scene is a great shape as long as events like this continue to grow and prosper.”

-Sebastien Archibald, Plank Magazine

“Pi Theatre accomplishes something incredible, crafting one of the rawest, most compellingly emotional pieces of theatre to grace any Vancouver stage this year. That it lasts a mere 10 minutes, at most, is the icing on the cake.”

- Andrea Warner, The Westender

(Last updates March 19, 2:37am)

How To Succeed in Theatre: By Really Trying

On March 5th of last year I mailed out a mountain of resumes.  I sent out 30 envelopes on that day (and another 25 e-mailed or mailed resumes over the course of the year).  13 of those initial companies  sent e-mails saying they would keep my resume on file or expressing interest in having me work with them.  Of those 13 I was able to arrange meetings with four different companies.

And yesterday, almost exactly a year later I started my first Equity apprenticeship credit as an ASM for Pi Theatre – a job that was birthed out of that batch of resume mail outs.

Since March 5th of last year, I met with Emma, the general manager of Pi Theatre twice, volunteered for Pi three times, & exchanged over two dozen e-mails talking about options and often simply following up on a previous conversation.  I did my best to make my interest known without being pushy.  And this time it paid off.

Some people assume that it should be easy.  Give one good audition. Meet the

Image by Flickr user Campru

right person at a party. Mail your resume on just the right day.  And sometimes that is enough.  But for every time that a job magically falls into someone’s lap, there are hundreds of times that a job was landed by auditioning multiple times, dozens of e-mail conversations, & simply never giving up.

And now it’s March again. So out comes my not-so-trusty laptop, the stack of headshots, photocopies of reference letters & the process starts again.  But this year my goal will be to mail out to 50 companies, get responses from 25-30 of those, and land 2 jobs over the next year.  But only if I keep really trying.

Three to See :: March 2010

The Olympics may have ended last night (or early this morning depending on which party you were at), but the Paralympics are less than two weeks away and the Cultural Olympiad is still out in full force.  Add to that, all the companies that were reluctant to run shows during the Olympics have shows opening soon.  What that leaves is one very busy month of theatre.  These are the three that top my list as “must sees” for March.

1. Hive 3  (Presented by Theatre Conspiracy, The Only Animal, Radix Theatre, The Electric Company, Boca Del Lupo, Rumble Productions, Theatre Replacement, neworld theatre, leaky heaven circus, theatre skam, pi theatre & Felix Culpa)

The Centre for Digital Media
577 Great Northern Way, Vancouver

MARCH 11-14, 17-20: 7pm-Late
Tickets available at 604-629-VTIX or www.vancouvertix.com

Hive (in all its incarnations) has been one of those events that you have to attend to really understand.  It is hard to put into words.  It is 12 plays by 12 companies in one giant warehouse.  It is a giant party.  It is concerts by bands from across the country.  It is impossible to take it all in on a single night – the 12 plays occurs simultaneously throughout the warehouse – each in a different corner for a different sized audience (usually ranging from 1 – 15).  Most of these shows are devised specifically for this event.  It’s the kind of night out that fits with the conversations that took place at the #Newplay Devised Work Convening.

Author’s note: I am working with pi theatre on this project as an ASM.  But even if I weren’t taking part in it, I would still be telling you to go see it.  It’s that kind of event.

2. Spine (Presented by Realwheels)

Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU/ Woodwards.
March 10-20, 2010: 8pm
Tickets available online.

From the SFU Woodwards website:

While traveling the universe of avatars, inhabiting online realities and identities, a man discovers the intriguing possibility of reinventing his physical body through a blend of ambitious, cutting-edge technologies and ethically questionable experiments. It’s a thrilling hunt for the body that will best define us, in a world where the virtual can be more real than the real itself.

Written by Kevin Kerr (Unity:1918, Skydive, & Studies in Motion) & directed by Bob Frazer.

3. Paradise Garden (Presented by The Arts Club)

March 11–April 11, 2010 |  Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

The Blurb:

Local boy Day, a free spirit, lives next door to worldly Layla, a career-driven intellectual. The two have nothing in common. Or do they? Over time these divergent souls come to understand each other in a way neither thought possible. A contemporary tale of romance and cultural divides so engaging it will change the way you see the girl (or boy) next door!

Written by Lucia Frangione (Holy Mo, Espresso, Cariboo Magi & more), this play is receiving its world premiere as a part of the Cultural Olympiad.  Lucia’s writing is smart, honest, funny & often heart-wrenching.  My friends and I are already planning a group outing to see this show.

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

Support ME as an Emerging Artist with Pi Theatre

Dear Readers,

I am writing to tell you about Pi Theatre’s Prime Placements program, an opportunity for emerging artists like me to gain professional experience and mentorship. I hope you will consider supporting my placement.

As a registered non-profit theatre company, Pi Theatre is seeking sponsorship for apprentice placements for new artists to be a part of their upcoming performance as part of HIVE 3. The performance is a unique collaboration with some of Vancouver’s most renowned theatre companies and a part of the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad.

I’ll be assistant stage managing  for HIVE 3 and earning my first Canadian Actors’ Equity Association credit.  Your support will help give me a much-needed bridge to professional status — please view this proposal for more information on how you can help.

If you’re interested in supporting me, please drop me a line – either by commenting on this post or e-mailing me: lois@loisbackstage.com. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact Emma Davis at Pi Theatre should you have any questions about the proposal or Pi Theatre.

Regards,

Lois Dawson

  • Pi Theatre
  • 1411 Cartwright Street
  • Granville Island, Vancouver, BC
  • V6H 3R7

ph 604.872.1861 | news@pitheatre.comwww.pitheatre.com

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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