So the intention had been to render this blog defunct, I had turned One Big Umbrella into a personal development business, originally intended to help artists. Old posts transferred over to the new business site and a new platform. I was walking away from theatre towards music and energy work.
I tried it for a while. But it never clicked. I found myself doing a lot of stumbling around, questioning what my purpose is, trying to fit all the disparate pieces of my life together. Trying to figure out what all my years in theatre meant in getting me towards changing the world, one person at a time.
Then last summer I had the chance to stage manage a touring show (Eleanor O’Brien's Lust & Marriage) and it felt amazing to be back in tech. I had no idea I missed it so much. I found myself missing being part of a show, even though I still didn't want to take on the burden of doing a production. I had other things to do.
You can guess what comes next.
While working on Harper Girl Does Canada, I was introduced to the London Fringe and fell in love with it. So I went back as a birthday present to myself. While there I met a young magician named Keith Brown. We went off for coffee and spend hours talking. One of the things we discussed was where he wanted to go as an artist. We've kept in touch as he spent the last two summers doing the fringe tour.
This year, he got into Toronto.
He called me from Vegas (!) to get some advice about getting people out to his show as an out-of-towner. As the conversation evolved, I suggested he use Toronto as an opportunity to up his game, to experiment with some of the elements he had shared with me during that coffee talk. He said he'd need someone to help with that. I replied, "good thing you're talking to a director".
So here I am, once again working with an alternative performer (following working with a storyteller and a comedian) on a fringe show. And I couldn't be happier.
There's a big difference to this show than the others. It's a tested show that he took across the country last summer to great acclaim. People love him because he's so authentic and open on stage, which was the same quality that drew me to him. So instead of building a show from scratch, the challenge becomes maintaining that authenticity while making the show more theatrical. I feel confident we can do that. It's going to be fun.
The other thing that is sucking me in was finding out about the Intimacy on Stage workshop. This is an area that has fascinated me for a while.
When I did the Soulpepper's directors' workshop many years ago, I took it as an opportunity to experiment with the idea of creating intimacy at the beginning of the process as a way to speed up scene discovery, something that short rehearsal times demand. So I did an exercise at the very beginning then we went working on our scene. My fellow students were madly racing to find time outside of class to continue working on their scenes but we stayed strictly within the allotted class time. When it came time to perform, our work was at the same level as others who had put in more rehearsal time than us.
I've always found that point of connection between characters the most interesting part of the script and the process. So I'm fascinated by this idea of intimacy choreography. It ties into my own strong ideas of a consent culture as well. I'm thinking of training with Tonia Sina and offering my services as an intimacy consultant for productions. Would you guys hire me for that?