Thursday, August 23, 2007

Aussies in Cyberspace

Read this article in today's Australian. It seems the Aussie theatre companies have discovered MySpace. When we got on it over a year ago, I did an extensive search for the companies I had met during APAM in 2004 and couldn't find any. Mostly we found other Toronto-based companies.

I had been getting the occasional request in the last few months from some independent Aussie companies but hadn't thought much of it. The article surprised me. I've spent some time today friending the companies I've found and subscribing to their blogs, which will help me keep in better contact with what they're doing.

The funniest thing was reading in the article about the debate to get onto Facebook. We had the same debate back in the spring and I remember my response was, "yet somewhere else I've got to spend time at?" Yet Facebook has proved to be invaluable. The event function is a godsend - we were able to invite over 1000 people to Kingship de Facto using it. The Toronto community has pretty much abandoned MySpace for it. So hate to break it to my Australian colleagues but yes, you will. And you won't regret it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Now what?

I've been trying to think of an interesting topic for days but have come up with a big blank. So instead I'm going to link to a few art blogs I find interesting.

The first is for actor Allison Mack, known for her work on Smallville. Her blog is honest and thought-provoking, something I've tried to strive for here. She takes a quote and then posts her thoughts on it, showing more introspection than most actors would. A lot of the comments are quite thoughtful as well.

The Wrecking Ball is a Toronto-based collection of theatre artists who believe there needs to be more political discourse in theatre. They post anything that is political-theatre related.

Darren O'Donnell has had many different blogs ruminating on theatre as it relates to community. I will admit that most of the time Darren's thoughts are way too dense for me, but I applaud his commitment to exploring the questions.

Along those lines, although it's a discussion board and not a blog, is Not Quite, A Think Tank hosted by Small Wooden Shoe. Again I find myself getting lost but am glad I can wade into the deep end on occasion.

Feel free to post other links in the comments.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Kingship wrap up

A friend of mine who came to the final performance has blogged her thoughts about the show. I also heard back from Jon Kaplan, going into more detail about how he saw the show. Another friend has also talked at length about his problems with the show. It's all been very helpful.

At the closing party, there were a few people reminding me that in the end, I had to say what I wanted to say. That I was not doing it for other people's approval. That it was an achievement to just be there. All of which also made me feel better. They also bought me drinks. :)

Now that I'm getting some distance, I can see that one of the main lessons for me is to somehow find a way to be personally connected to the work without having my ego tied into it, to find detachment. On a metaphysical level, I brought my own worst nightmare on myself and got through it. Which may have been something I needed to go through to grow.

So what's next?

Well, I'm going to keep blogging, although the nature of this blog is going to change. I'll be talking more about work I've seen and will be linking to interesting articles elsewhere.

I'm also scheduled to be part of the 365 Days/365 Plays project. Most likely I'll have to do it as an independent artist as it doesn't really fit with one big umbrella's mandate. But I'm looking forward to doing it - really low stress, community-based, working with people I like, just discovering the joys of directing again.

And we're doing a postmortem on this show and deciding where we're going for future projects. That's enough to keep me busy for a while.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The End

It was raining as I headed out to the theatre. I thought, "as if we aren't having enough problems getting an audience." And of course it had stopped by the time the show was over, which helped having people hanging around waiting for us during the strike.

So the show is now closed. I'm so glad that we rented the set pieces from Tarragon. It made load out so much easier. I get to run around tomorrow returning the projector, screen and prop gun that we rented and then all is done.

Today's show was great. I'm sure it helped that some of my closest friends were in the audience and liked it. They can't believe it got reviewed the way it did. My parents also came and they were still speaking to me, so that's something too. Keira, the artistic producer of Summerworks, also saw it and congratulated me on it. So I'm feeling better about it and I welcome celebrating at the closing party.

The difference a day makes

Friday's show was off. I was watching it like I was watching a runaway freight train going off the rails and there wasn't a damn thing I can do about it. If this had been the show that had been reviewed, I would have agreed with the assessment.about its pacing. They were rushing. I barely heard any of the pauses in the script and those I did hear were way too short. There wasn't space to breathe and it seemed to all operate at the same level. Sometimes they weren't listening to each other and were jumping on each other's lines

Turns out the cast knew it was off too. We were all kind of bummed about it. The people who saw the show didn't notice anything was off, but we sure did.

Then to compound things, I went and saw Jasmine Saturday afternoon before our show. How I felt watching it was exactly why I hadn't wanted to see anything all week. It flowed and it looked visually beautiful. I really made a mistake in not getting a set designer on the show, because I looked at it and that was what I wanted Kingship to be. It was very depressing. Luckily, I knew some of the people involved in the show and talking to them afterward, I couldn't help but feel good about what they achieved. I'm not begrudging anyone their success. I just wanted to be among them.

Saturday's show, on the other hand, was exactly what I wanted to see. This was the one that got taped and I'm glad. The pacing was where it should be and they had pitched it a little lower, which gave it more shading and made it easier for the audience to listen. I was extremely happy with the show.

Sadly, it was also the smallest house we've had. Everyone else's houses are growing and ours aren't, which I think we can trace back to the review and to the word of mouth among my colleagues. I'm discovering there are two responses to the show. One group just adores it and wants to talk about the ideas it brings up. The other really don't like the script and as a result hated the show.

A lot of my colleagues are in the latter camp. Thankfully, not all, but I do wonder what the fallout is going to be on my career because of this. Will people just dismiss me as someone with no talent? Will people stop being supportive? How much harder is it going to be to get future projects up? I'd like to think that there'd be nothing but positive impact from this, but right now it's so hard to tell.

One more show now. I really hope we get a lot of people out for this one because Kent is in danger of losing money off of this show and I'd really hate for that to happen. I also want the actors to see some money, although that's a real long-shot at this point. It would be great to have a miracle, though.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


So I woke up this morning finally accepting enough to ask myself, "what can I learn and how can I grow from this experience?" The answer was fairly simple - ask my peers who have seen the show for honest feedback. I even asked the reviewer. (I finally read the review tonight. I disagree with his assessment but it's a fair opinion. I expected nothing less.)

So far the feedback has been surprising. Most of the issues have to do with the script, almost nothing to do with my directing. Which I guess goes to show how personally I was taking it. I now have a sense of detachment about it, which feels really nice.

Tonight's show was the best yet. The cast has found its groove. And there were a lot of friends tonight in the audience - Soheil Parsa from Modern Times Stage Company, Anton Piatigorsky, who wrote Kabbalistic, my brother, some friends who have supported my work in the past, and others who I wanted to see my work. We even had a return viewer. Their response was gratifying to see.

I still believe in this show and it's doing what I had intended for it - to spark discussion. If I get my own professional goals out of the way, the show is a success. And I hope more people will see it before it closes this weekend. Still three shows to go!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Interview

This morning I was reminded of a story I read in a Harvey Mackay book - I don't remember which one. A head of a division that just had a disastrous product launch gets called into the office of his CEO. Expecting to be fired, to his surprise he gets handed another product to roll out. He asks why after all that happened he's being entrusted with this. The CEO replied, "We just spent millions on your education. I can't wait to see what you're going to do next."

Good lesson to keep in mind. I have learned an awful lot doing this show. The education continued today when I arrived at early to find that the guest before me did not show. They offered to put me on early but I turned it down knowing that people were going to tune in at 1:30. As it turned out, the previous guest got an extra half-hour and I ran out of time before getting a chance to talk about the company and about my experience blogging. Lesson? Don't turn down an opportunity.

The interview is being rebroadcast this evening at 11:30pm and we'll have a copy of it available on the website soon. I had a great time doing it and they've told me to come back to them the next time there is a project going on.

Tonight I have to do some adjustments to the timings of the slides. I then plan on curling up with a good book and just let the world while itself away for a while.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Crisis of Faith

I found myself being nervous before today's show as well. I realized it's because my peers are coming to see the show and I really want them to believe that I belong in their company. I was really hoping this show would be a showcase for my talent. And yes, I'm deeply unhappy with how the rehearsal process went and feel that I failed in many ways, but the end result is good as far as I'm concerned.

So why did we get a bad review? I've only been told about it. I can't bear to look. Sedina says it's BS and we will continue to go forward. And that makes sense. The feedback I've been getting from the audience has been really favourable. They're recommending it to their friends. People have told me it's good and I've done a good job. On the flip side, the reviewer is someone I deeply respect, and there's my own self-doubts.

We really needed a good review, both to help our houses and for our next round of grant applications, so this is a huge setback. Needless to say, I'm very down about things at the moment and can't bear the thought of going to see other shows. Hopefully this is all just a dark night of the soul and I'll feel much better when tomorrow comes.

Opening Night

For the first time I truly understood why a lot of directors go out and get drunk on opening night. I really didn't want to watch the show, which is something I had never experienced before. I wasn't worried about the actors. I was worried about how it was going to be received. Would it be considered at the same level as the other work? Would people not find it as interesting as I? Would it be the success we all hoped it would be? Would there even be an audience? Those questions preyed on me the whole day.

More than at any time I can remember, I would have killed to have had someone standing beside me, holding my hand, just being silent support. That's not to say that people weren't supportive - everyone was. But it's just not the same as having someone intimate say the same thing. At the launch party the other night, I met the boyfriend of one of the other directors. He introduced himself as nobody important. I told him not to underestimate the importance of his role. And I envied her.

I did end up in the show. Just coming out of the show in the Extra Space was Daryl Cloran, a director I greatly respect. He encouraged me to go in and reminded me, "it is just Summerworks". For him, maybe, but for me, this is the highest profile thing I've ever done. He did tell me that I would regret not being in there and that I would be alright. And I was when the audience started laughing. In fact, they laughed a lot more than I had expected. We didn't do a lot of laughing at rehearsal and I was worried that we ran right over the humour. But it was there, the audience responded, and all was right.

There's also some good word of mouth that the team heard after the show, which bodes well. We don't any stars so we're in an uphill battle for an audience. Word of mouth and our email blasts are the two best tools we have. On that note, I'm going to interviewed on on Tuesday at 1:30pm EDT, for about 20 minutes. I've never done an interview that long before. It's supposed to cover both this show and the company, and we hope it will give us some good sound clips we can use later. I have no idea what kind of audience they have but any publicity is good for us.

Also rare for me was wanting to seriously drink. I wish I had before the show and was desperate for one afterward. I didn't end up overdoing it though, which was a good thing. After all, we have another show today and I need to do some tweaks on the slides. Yes, I did want the multimedia, although it has been a complete pain in the butt. I have no one to blame but myself.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Final Rehearsal

We ran through the show this afternoon and it was everything I hoped for. The cuts we implemented gave us the extra time we needed and I didn't feel like anything was missing. Some of the lines were ones that just didn't sound right to me, some were ones that Adam and I had tabled back in May, and two beats were taken out that didn't really add much to the story. I'm very happy with it.

And the performances! They were still losing the occasional line and sometimes got a little lost, which is easy to do because there is a lot of similar lines in the text, but they had the rhythms and the connections down. They were engaging with each other, which was a beautiful thing to see. They're ready to go on.

Still some things to finish with the projections that are causing me some stress. I just have to remind myself that I wanted to experiment with this and that it will all work out in the end. It always does.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Our first run back after taking the weekend off was wonderful. If that's the level of performance we get on opening night, I'll be very happy. Sadly, the next run had lost that sense of discovery and adventure and got mired down in worrying about lines. They know them better than they think they do. They just have to trust Adam and themselves. Hopefully the last two rehearsals will do that for them.

I love the people at Tarragon. Yesterday's tech could have been a disaster but Chris, Gavin and Shauna (I hope I'm spelling that right) went way beyond the call of duty to make the projection element happen. The biggest shift is that I had originally expected to project all along the back wall and I've ended up with a 5' by 4' screen. It fits though, as the design has become more anachronistic as befitting its original inspiration, the Max Headroom television series. John Rudge also found the Max Headroom theme music and to hear it for the first time in almost 20 years - well, it gave me goosebumps.

The only downside? We're a few minutes over and will have to make cuts. Wish Adam was around to touch base with. I can only hope the cuts I make will be ones he agrees with.

I wasn't up for it originally but after a nap I attended the launch party last night. It was really nice to touch base with other people who are going through the same thing. And I got a free drink! Always a good thing.

I'm glad we still have a few days, though. I keep thinking of all the things that need to get done yet. Can't even imagine opening.