Friday, April 27, 2007

This is my year to...

I keep thinking about the above phrase because of one of the bios in the Shadow Play program. This very cool woman in the cast named Sue Blue (which is a pretty cool name, too) wrote at the end of hers: "This is my year to listen." Which has kind of stuck in my brain because I think it's great to have a year of listening, and also it made me wonder: what is this year for me? I think that this should be my year to learn.
I want to get back to playing and practicing more; to learn my craft & be a better artist.
I want to learn to let go of anger and resentment and fear, which are all holding me back.
I want to learn mental discipline, which will help me achieve my health and musical goals.
Since I have no theatre jobs lined up after the Enderby gig, it would be a most excellent time to start focusing on music again- I've been hardly playing this year because I've been too wrapped up in getting other people to play and sing and perform. I would like to spend some time on MY performance skills for a change! So let's see if I can get learning this year!

The shadow show has 3 more performances (including tonight's). I would so like to have a perfect show before the end of the run. So far I've screwed up something every night! There are quite a few tasks I have to perform during the show, but still... it would be great if I could pull them all off perfectly tonight! Last night I pre-set some things wrong and kind of messed up a scene because of it. Even after double-checking things twice! Guess I'm not as organised as I like to think! Mom & Magda (from Toronto) are coming tonight. Mom was the original SM for this show in its earlier incarnation, and also the SM for the original downtown eastside show 5 or 6 years ago. So she'll probably get mobbed tonight as the cast love her!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

how many ways can I avoid working?

Apparently, quite a few. I can: go to the gym (takes up 45 minutes or so), shop for dinner supplies (another 20 minutes or so), read the Running Room catalogue (quite boring- almost makes me want to work), go to the Sparkpeople site and enter my food intake for the day... oh, the ways are limitless.
I'm SUPPOSED to be writing music for the upcoming show I'm doing in Enderby, but I feel kinda off today- sore throat and looow energy. So I'm parked in front of the computer, but precious little work is being done. I'm visiting a lot of Bach websites as research- Cathy will be playing quite a few Bach preludes in the show. My job may be persuading her to play less, we'll see how they sound! One of the songs I'm supposed to write is supposed to be a riff on prelude 24, book2 of The Well-Tempered Clavier: oh yeah, I'll just pull THAT out of my ass- a "riff" on a piece by one of classical music's gods!
I do love listening to the incredible structure of these pieces though- they contain so many ideas and lines all somehow working perfectly together. It's musical math at its finest. My friend Gord says he hates to play them because they're so hard- Chopin is apparently much more fun.
I have this webcam site that I've been watching the last week- it's a camera on Broome Beach in Australia. If you watch it around 2:40pm our time, you'll see the camera view go from dark to light very fast- the sun seems to come up very quickly. Usually it's a beautiful sunny beach paradise, but today I notice that it looks as grey and wet as it is here in East Van. Even paradise has to have shitty weather every once in a while I guess.
I am frustrated at how hard it is to entertain myself these days- I spend a lot of my day doing nothing. I know I will probably miss these idle times when I am in the thick of the next project, but I am a bit bored with the gym-market-home routine. Yesterday I had a recording session with the Reptiles and it felt so great to play the clarinet and hang out with those crazy folks for a while.
In other news... I bought a laptop on the weekend! A cute little used Macbook, for a mere $960. It will be making the trip to Enderby with me, and I hope other out-of-town projects follow, so I can justify its existence in my life. To have 3 computers in a 2-person household feels dangerously decadent.
Alright, enough wallowing- I'm gonna make spaghetti sauce, since the music does not flow today.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


That's what I've been doing since we opened WAITT- pottering. Working from 6-10pm certainly leaves a lot of time to fill, and like many people, I only work hard when I'm under pressure. So I've been listening to a lot of music, sleeping in, cooking, exercising, reading. NOT a lot of practicing, songwriting, job-hunting... I haven't seen a lot of people, except at work, and I'm kinda happy living life in slow gear for a while, having time to do exactly what I want, even if it's a little dull at times. I know that soon I'll be hard at work in Enderby, so it feels ok.
I'll be sad to finish work on the shadow play, although it's certainly a gong show at times! The shows have been pretty hectic, with lots of small, odd things happening every night to keep things interesting. A show this size, with no professional actors- makes sense to me that it's never going to totally work. I try to keep positive and roll with things, even when people are being high-strung and high-maintainance. Had a calming tea-break onstage before last night's show with Tamara & Sharon, who are the 2 design divas who built the majority of the sets, masks and props we're using. Getting to know them has been a highlight, as well as staying on good terms with all the shadow-casters I work with behind the screen- I'll miss most of them, but I'll be totally ready to work with a very small (3 actors), VERY professional group in Enderby. Soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


A break in the rainy blah that has been our spring so far. Not that it condescended to be actually SUNNY or anything, but it's dry and there is some blue sky showing through. So I decided it was about time to break in the new running shoes I got about 3 weeks ago! I went for a gentle run, as the shoes were brand-new and also I hadn't been running for weeks. I thought it would be a perfect time to head to the port and bring my camera.

The Rogers Sugar refinery smells like burning sugar as you pass by- an inspirational smell!

I'd forgotten how many people haunt this area during the day- a zombie parade of the down-and-out. I didn't want to flash my camera too much, but I love this park, even more for it being in such a poor area. I have never felt unsafe down here- my guess is that most people are on their own trips down here and will leave you alone, unless you look particularly mug-able.
I found this great park, Portside Park it's called, which has amazing views of the north shore and the city itself. I don't have a lot of experience of other cites, but I think Vancouver really closed itself off from the water, which is such a shame. Even now, with some parks like this, downtown seems to draw up its toes and back away from Burrard Inlet, whereas Victoria opens up to the sea.

I know it's a bit geeky to run around by myself snapping pictures but it feels great to be outside after being holed up in the Russian Hall all week. BTW, tonight's our preview- pray for me!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finally, a shot of my current workplace! It's not a very remarkable picture, but I hope it conveys SOME of the crazy collection of masks and props I have to deal with. The paper "wall" in the upper right-hand is a small part of the giant paper screen behind which all the shadow puppets are operated. Some of the 20+ masks are hanging on the left and in the foreground is one of the light tables where different sets are put up to cast backdrop shadows.
It's been a long week and I'm very glad to have a day off tomorrow. We've been doing run-throughs, and although it's going pretty well, I get so frustrated with myself when I mess up and don't have the right prop or lighting set in the right place at the right time. A little voice says "if you were a more experienced ASM, you wouldn't have screwed up." BUT... I am so very glad I took on this project- I've learned a lot about myself as well as new skills in Excel, backstage organisation, and overall diplomacy.
Yesterday, Jon and I had a well-earned outing with our pals SD & Kris. After rehearsal, we met them in their funky Strathcona apartment and walked down to Gastown to this great little pub called Six Acres. It should've been called Six Square Feet, as it was very cramped, but wonderful food and very inventive cocktails. I had a Dark & Stormy, which was dark rum with organic giger ale and lime juice. YUM! I could chug lime juice all day- it's the most refreshing taste I know.
I was kicking myself for not bringing the camera- there are so many amazing shots in that part of town. Not the touristy Gastown shots, but further east along Powell Street, where Japantown used to be- there are incredible run-down old buildings and peeking through them, gorgeous views of the mountains. Boarded-up hovels, expensive studios, oriental produce markets, seedy "hotels"... layer upon layer of Vancouver history. We don't tend to hold on to our past very carefully here, which is why I MUST go back and shoot some of these places! Maybe tomorrow, if the light is good...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

another day on the ol' balcony

Sometimes I feel like that character in the movie "Smoke", who took a picture every day from the door of his smoke shop. Augie, that was his name. So many pictures of the same view, and yet every one is so different. I was trying to get artsy and just focus on the lovely red crane in this shot, but it's not a great job because the zoom on this camera isn't that great.
A nice, peaceful day off today and yesterday, recovering from the long week of shadow play rehearsals. I visited Malcolm & Naomi's new place in Guildford yesterday, and tonight we'll be doing a famiy dinner at my mom's. Have to try not to talk theatre all evening- it's boring for Malcolm & Naomi!
Speaking of which... I have a sneaking suspicion that the work I hoped I'd get in the summer won't come to pass. So I'll have to do a good job up in Enderby next month and then- who knows? I feel confident that something will come up, I just hope it's something really great.
I've been having lots of thoughts about playing more music and doing a bit less theatre for a bit- if only it paid better! I got together with Megan (from Flying Folk Army) to play some music recently and it felt great and terrible at the same time- great to play music with a friend I've shared so many gigs and rehearsals with, terrible to be so out of practice! I've spent so much time recently focussed on theatre that my chops have suffered! Time to set up a practice schedule.

Monday, April 9, 2007

my weekend is here!

Still no pictures- I've been neglecting my little camera. Wow- a long week, and I'm glad of the time off, although I've been having a great time. Everyone's been so appreciative of my being involved in the shadow play, and I'm glad to make a difference. We did our first run-through yesterday. Yikes! I don't know many pro actors who could multi-task in the way that we're asking these downtown eastsiders to do, but the great thing is that although the process can be frustrating, because we're all doing too much, everyone seems genuinely grateful and happy to be involved. I was talking to this one guy after the rehearsal and he said that this was the most fun he'd ever had. Part of me was glad he was having a good time and part of me was appalled that this was the best it had gotten for him. This is not a young guy we're talking about here.

This is the poster for the shadow play. I'd call it by its full name but it's way too long- almost all the plays I do seem to have ridiculously long titles! WAITT is a pretty good acronym, though.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

working, again.

No new pictures, I'm afraid. I keep forgetting to bring my camera to rehearsals; anyway, I'm not sure about the protocol surrounding posting people's set/puppet/costume designs on the 'net... Work is going well, though. It's a learning curve, for sure, this being an ASM. (that's assistant stage manager, for you non-theatre people) There's always another prop to move, another note to take, another person to help. I'd much rather be singing or playing, but I'm really glad I'm not the music director on this one! Ya-Wen Wang has done an amazing job of arranging all the music- it's much more complex than the stuff I've done in the past. One thing about this career- the more I do, the more I realize I need to know! In case I haven't yet explained, this is a shadow-puppet show about addiction, featuring around 30 members of the downtown eastside community. They aren't pro actors, and they're doing a great job- most pro actors would complain about the amount of stuff they have to do, but these guys jump right in. That said, they also have the faults of non-pros- the acting is sometimes stilted, and they need to be told everything at least 3 times before it sinks in. Not to mention the issues, weaknesses, illness and addictions that haunt so many of them, being true downtown eastside residents. It's challenging, and I'm glad my job is mainly lurking in the shadows and helping out when I'm needed.
I'm posting drunk right now- on my 2nd glass of wine and it's gone straight to my head! So let me be sloppy drunk and list some of the things I'm truly thankful for: I have been making decent money for the last year and it feels so good! Actually being able to save some money is a wonderful thing that I could never explore when I was a bookseller.
I am so grateful to have a wonderful man who makes delicious spaghetti-and-meat-sauce for me when I come home tired & hungry from rehearsals.
I am so glad that I love all of my immediate family members, without exception.
I'm glad I got up early enough to go to the gym today.
And lastly, although their blogs inspired this one, I am glad that I do NOT envy my friends with children. I love that I am child-free at this moment in my life. That may change one day, but I am so glad I have the chance to realize my dreams before I start thinking about someone else's.

Monday, April 2, 2007

girls' day out

Some good shopping with my mom today- just the 2 of us girls and a giant red van (coutesy of Axis Theatre!). We went to Park Royal and shopped for a few hours and ate very bad-for-us food. I bought running shoes, though- does buying running shoes mean that I automatically get healthier? It doesn't?! Jonathan is in the bedroom, teaching himself Final Cut. I just feel so in love with him these days, and our life together is mostly peaceful and happy, except when I ask him to make dinner and he doesn't and I've worked all day and am grumpy and HUNGRY!!! Work this week was good, but it's going to be a challenging job and I'll need to keep my wits about me and my strength up. I'll try to get some pictures this week so you can see the dozens of props I am dealing with backstage...
Felt really tired and lethargic today- too much so to get to the gym, which I really need to do, especially after all the BEAUTIFUL CHEESE I ate today.
I just realised my last entry mentioned tiredness and lethargy too- maybe it's the weather or the atmosphere or something, although the weather's been very chilly and bracing the last few days so... what gives?
I thought I'd include this photo-of-a-photo: it's me and Amelia playing a Zeellia gig back in '05 at the Heart of the City Festival. It was the day after I'd been to a Halloween party and I woke up, my hair was still in spikes and I went 'fuck it- I'm going to play the gig looking like this!'