Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Arts Quotes: Boxing Day Edition

This week's Friday Arts Quotes come to you with a Christmas theme.

Charlie Brown on Directing:
"One of the first things to insure a good performance is strict attention to the director. I'll keep my directions simple. If I point to the right, it means focus attention stage right. If I make a slashing motion across my throat it means cut the scene short. If I make a revolving motion with my hand, it means pick up the tempo. If I spread my hands apart, it means slow down. It's the spirit of the actors that counts, the interest that they show in their director. Am I right? I said, am I right?"
- Charlie Brown, in A Charlie Brown Christmas

And let me give a tiny bit of context to this second quote: Liz is an aspiring actress who has just had her vision of what theatre is shattered by a crass director.

“I’ve always thought about the theatre like a Christmas tree, all shining and bright with beautiful ornaments. But now it seems like a Christmas tree with the tinsel all tarnished and the colored balls all fallen off and broken. That’s a corny way of saying it, but you know what I mean.”
“Sure, I know what you mean, Liz. And it’s both ways . . . Some of the ornaments fall and break and some stay clear and bright. Some of the tinsel gets tarnished and some stays shining and beautiful like the night before Christmas. Nothing’s ever all one way.You know that. It’s all mixed up and you’ve just got to find the part that’s right for you.”
- Liz & Ben in The Joys of Love by Madeline L'Engle

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

One of my favourite things about Christmas are all the traditions that go with it. My traditions start Dec.1 with a viewing of The Muppets Christmas Carol as I decorate the tree. Always right on Dec.1. And on Christmas Eve my mother always took us to the grocery store first thing in the morning to buy treats. Any fruit or vegetable we wanted we could have on Christmas Eve. Red Peppers were a special treat. Starfruit. Strawberries in December. When I was older, the family started using the fruit in a chocolate fondue after the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. Christmas Day started with my brother waking me up, us heading down to my parents room, climbing into bed with them and opening our stockings. Even when I was in university this was what happened. Then we'd go upstairs and open presents followed by waffles with whipped cream & strawberries. Then we'd go up the mountain and spend the afternoon cross country skiing.

This year I couldn't go up to my parents house becuase of my work schedule, so I've had to find my own way to do all of my traditions. Decorating on Dec. 1 was easy, but the Christmas Eve plans were harder. And finding a place to spend Christmas day, let alone to go skiing. But I was lucky enough to have a good friend invite me to spend Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with her family.

The last Christmas tradition I have is one I want to share: a time to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. My best friend started sending me links to Charlie Brown Christmas online in October this year, but I love it because it renounces the commercialism that comes with Christmas & leads us back to the true meaning of Christmas.

From A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus explains the meaning of Christmas:

By the way, if you're looking for a great way to spend Boxing Day that doesn't involve large crowds of people spending more money than they have on sales they can't resist, we have two performances of Jesus, My Boy and the matinee tickets are at sale prices!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowy Fun!

I love playing in the snow!

Enjoy this white Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Vancouver Experiment

On Friday, 99seats wrote an interesting blog post about the mandates of a handful of mid-level, NYC not-for-profit theatres:

Pretty hard to tell which is which, right? Or who's doing what kind of work? It's all the same language about "nurturing," "supporting," "encouraging," and "challenging." It says nothing about style or approach. Nothing about the content. Shouldn't that be important? The problem is the grant language, the corporatespeak that dominates our conversations. It's safe, fuzzy and easy and it's the lingua franca of the arts.

So I thought I'd take a look at a few Vancouver Theatres in the same category (mid-level, not-for-profit), but then I remembered that Vancouver doesn't really have mid-level companies. We have a lot of smaller, independent companies & the two big ones, but not much in between. So I've picked 5 companies that are on the larger side of independent or as close to mid-level as Vancouver has.

Company 1:

XXXXXX is dedicated to the creation of new performance works using unique processes of collaboration and extra-ordinary interactions between performer and audience. XXXXXX is devoted to discovering and actively seeking out international, national and regional artists to collaborate with in creating new works drawn from our collective experience. XXXXXX is committed to providing professional opportunities to diverse artists and individuals in our productions and tours in both emerging and leadership positions.

Company 2:
XXXXXX endeavors to bring life to classics, past and present. It is interested in producing plays that are both rooted in myth and that have contributed to the mythical landscape of our society. We want to question perceptions of classical theatre and find the pulse, rhythm in the plays that contribute enormously to our cultural identity while, at the same time, freeing them from the confines of traditional staging. We want to push the boundaries of classical interpretation, approaching classics not as literature but as events.

Company 3:
XXXXXX exists to develop and present professional Canadian theatrical productions. It encourages explorations in content and form, and introduces new works to the public. XXXXXX stimulates and develops public interest in an evolving Canadian cultural perspective.

Company 4:
XXXXXX aspires to delight, provoke and stimulate dialogue by producing theatre that rigourously explores the spiritual aspects of human experience. We foster new work and established plays, develop emerging artists, create an artistic home for established practitioners, and engage the community at large.

Company 5:
XXXXXX deepens intercultural dialogue through theatre. We do this by producing French-Canadian plays in English translation and cutting-edge contemporary works from the world stage, including work that has been translated or adapted from its original language.

Sure, there is still the same grant-speak, but these talk about content. Classics, French-Canadian, New Canadian, Interactive, Spiritual. And there are lots of others: Asian-Canadian, contemporary, musicals, site-specific.

Looking at these 5 mandates, I'd say that Vancouver is very lucky to have such variety in what is being presented.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Arts Quotes:

In this week's edition of Friday Arts Quotes: An old favorite & a new find.

I keep a leather bound book on my night table with the word "meditations" on the front of it. Into it I copy any quote that I find particularly inspiring that I will want to look back on and meditate on when I am down. The first quote this week has been in that book since the beginning, and the second just was added this week as I was watching TV.
"What do[es it mean to be] creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter what our vocation, or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career....Our freedom to be creators is far less limited than some people would think." - Madeline L'Engle

"But our job as artists is to press on: continue creating, because that's who we are. Even if some critic does squash you like a bug. That's who we are." - Joan of Arcadia, "No Bad Guy"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

York Theatre Saved, Pantages Next?

Vancouver Council gave a Christmas present to the Vancouver Theatre community today: a unanimous vote to save the York Theatre.

After a year of limbo, waiting to hear whether the city would step in and stop this landmark from being demolished to build condos, today a contingent of Vancouver Theatre folks went before City Council asking for a density transfer that would save the theatre.

And the Council said yes!

I received a facebook message from Deb Pickman, one of the co-ordinator's of the group that went to council this morning which said:

The city council meeting was a mighty fine piece of theatre this morning. never have I been so riveted by a three hour performance with no intermission. there were a few tears and a standing "o" at the conclusion!

there are still important details to work out - but congratulations and thanks are in order. council mentioned the many emails they received.

let's keep our fingers crossed that the developer and owner can reach an agreement on the selling price.

A local, cultural landmark, the York Theatre was built in 1913 and has been the home of multiple theatre companies including The Vancouver Little Theatre Association & Alcazar Stock Company. More recently it has operated as the Raja Cinema showing Indian films. It has the capacity to seat 500 people, a size of theatre that is sorely lacking in Vancouver.

With the decision to save the York Theatre, the question remains: What will council do with the Pantages Theatre on Hasting's that there is also a call to save?

Updated: Dec. 18, 4:12pm
More details to come as information on this morning's council decision emerge.

Monday, December 15, 2008

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 or by phone at 604-685-6217.

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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Music to Hear

One of the things I love about my job is that I have an opportunity to work with very talented people. A lot of actors & directors, but every once and a while we do a show with live music and I have the chance to get to know some great musicians too!

(Sheree Plett & Jeremy Eisenhauer)

Currently, I have the privilege of working with two lovely & talented musicians on Pacific Theatre's production of Jesus, My Boy. Sheree Plett & Jeremy Eisenhauer are local musicians with an impressive discography, but their immersion into the world of theatre is a new thing for them.

Regular's at Pacific Theatre's "Christmas Presence" event for the past few years, this is their first foray into the world of theatre. They play live each night, interacting with the single actor as they underscore moments, play their original pieces, their re-interpretation of Christmas classics, and a couple of covers.

Their sound is a combination of folk, indie rock, & pop and it gives a great new interpretation of many of the Christmas favorites. One of my favorite songs that they play during the show is one of Sheree's original's called "Yellow Dress." It is a haunting love song that touches my heart every time I hear it...And after 20+ performances it still impacts me. I'd highly recommend buying it off of iTunes.

Unfortunately, Sheree & Jeremy's co-produced Christmas album, "Lights Used to Shine" is not available on iTunes, but you can get a free mp3 download of their version of Silent Night.

Their next show is Sunday, Dec. 21 at Christmas Presence on the North Shore.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

PuShing onto the Scene

Five years ago the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival burst onto the scene in Vancouver and has quickly become one of the most anticipated festivals of the year.

Running for two and a half weeks beginning January 20th, it boasts work from as far away as Japan & New Zealand while still promoting shows from right here in Vancouver. Some of the shows have been very successful internationally while others have been commissioned especially for the festival.

With a line up that includes dance, theatre, music, film as well as performances that defy categorization, it provides something for everyone whether they are regular patrons of the arts or not. This year they've added Club PuSh, a miniature fringe festival with lots of live music, one-man shows, miniature musicals and multiple performances each night.

As we approach the festival I will be writing previews of the various shows and once the festival is up and running I will be providing reviews of as many of the shows as I can make it out to.

But now, a little over a month before the festival begins, I'd like to encourage you to volunteer. This will be my third year as a volunteer with the PuSh festival and I highly recommend getting involved. For those of you who are involved in the arts, this is a great opportunity to support other artists in the community, as well as meeting a number of other artists. For those of you who just love the arts, the PuSh festival provides complimentary tickets to shows for every four hours of volunteering that you do.

I have worked as an usher, I have poured wine for opening night receptions, I have sat at information booths for art installations, & I have driven to the airport to pick up artists. Again this year they are looking for people to volunteer in all of those capacities as well as others.

If you are interested in volunteering, please read the volunteer job descriptions for more information and then fill out the volunteer registration form.

The registration deadline is December 19th, so register now, before it's too late!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two ArtsQuotes to Start my Day

"If the work comes to the artist and says 'Here I am, serve me." then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve."
-Madeline L'Engle Walking on Water

"The few seconds before the curtain went up: she called it the Holy Time. But you don't have to be an actor to know what the Holy Time feels like. It's that breath you take just seconds before you become the person you are meant to become. For some people it feels like forever, and for some it's a moment over far too fast."

- Everwood, Season 1, Episode 13 (The Price of Fame)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting into the Christmas Spirit

(Photo by: Flickr user blue ridge laughing)

One of my favorite traditions as a child was the day we drove around and looked at Christmas lights.

A week before Christmas (or there abouts) my parents would load my brother and I into the car with a thermos of hot chocolate and a few cookies to begin the annual tour. There were some houses we always hit: one of them looked a lot like the picture at the top. It was owned by an elderly couple who went out of their way to make Christmas bright for others. And over the years we got to know this couple & their talking parrot. They would invite us in for mandarin oranges & an opportunity to take a look at the decorations inside their house. Sure the outside was a bit overwhelming, but it was always fun.

It was a sad day when we drove up to their house and there were only lights around the windows. We went and knocked on the door to see if they were okay. They were fine, it was just, they said, that they were getting too old to put up all those lights themselves & they'd hired neighbours to put them up the year before, but it hadn't worked this year. But, if we drove another five blocks we'd find their friends who they had given all the lights to.

So we drove three blocks and began to see the glow. Not only had these friends put up all of the original decorations, but they had added to them, along with a sign out front that said something about an injury their son had sustained the previous summer & how these lights were very special to him, but that they wanted to give back, so if the viewers enjoyed the lights, they could make a donation which would go to charity.

And then it invited you to walk through the yard.

It was magical. The whole yard had been transformed into a winter wonderland, and when you got around back, there was the couple with candy canes for all the kids & some antique ornaments that they were showing off. When asked why they did it, they were quick to mention their son's desire to do it, but also they wanted to share it with the community.

There were other houses that we visited (one even had a live Nativity play in the backyard!), some of the homes were classy, others were tacky, but it was a very communal event. There were other families looking at each home, getting out of their cars to look around. It was also a special family event: an evening that we all spent together, even through my university years, this was still what we did when I got into town.

On Tuesday night, I had been out shopping with a good friend of mine and on our way back to her place, we saw some houses with lights & decorations and began to reminisce about our childhood adventures looking lights (like my family, hers had done a similar tour each year, though hers was usually much more spontaneous). So we drove around the block looking at lights.

There weren't many houses with them, but like always some were classy & some were ridiculous.

But it made it feel like Christmas. And I loved it.

I'm not going to see my family for Christmas this year becuase I have shows on Christmas Eve & Boxing Day, but one night next week after work I am going to get on a bus, and just ride it for a while & take in the lights. Maybe I'll fill my ipod with Christmas music :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Three Shows To See This Month (+ One to See Every Night)

It seems that this December the Vancouver theatre scene is full of remounts, musicals, musical remounts, pantomimes, and little else.

The Arts Club has brought back This Wonderful Life and Beauty & The Beast which have been huge hits for them. Carousel has back Seussical the Musical. The Playhouse is doing The Drowsy Chaperone. Gateway's choice is Guys & Dolls. And outside of those, there are only a few other shows still running in the city.

So this is my December list of shows I intend to see. Don't know if I'll make it to them all with my work schedule this month (I am down to only 6 days off left this month and I'm away for 3 of them), but here they are:

Seussical the Musical.
I didn't make it to this show last year because of work, but my roommate saw it and told me that I needed to go and see it. And lucky for me they have Sunday afternoon shows, so I have a ticket for next weekend and am looking forward to sitting and being entertained for an hour or two :). It's not that I don't like musicals, its just that usually I want to leave the theatre asking myself lots of questions (if I just want pure entertainment I often choose something cheaper than theatre....which is a little silly, but that's a whole additional post). But I am looking forward to seeing this and being purely entertained. I am seeing it in the midst of a two week period with no days off, so I will see it before my own evening show and it will be nice to just sit and enjoy!

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball
Playing at the Beaumont, this play about the New York art scene & faking multiple personality disorder interests me, and its only $20, so I'm hoping to check it out. Also, I don't think I've ever been inside the Beaumont and something about that just feels wrong.

Confessions of a Paper Boy
The first show in the Vancouver East Cultural Center's Kids series, this play about a paperboy who hears the voice of God. It's a short run, but a great opportunity to see the new studio space at the Cultch as well as a show that I think has the potential to be really interesting. Hopefully I'll be able to see this on Tuesday night. Anyone want to come with me?

And one to see every night:
Jesus, My Boy
The Christmas story according to the Step-Father of the Son of God - a comedy with live music that I'm still enjoying after seeing it 15 times. I'll look forward to the next 15!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Gift of a Great Audience

Audiences can be fickle beasts. They laugh. They're silent. They cry. They clap. They sleep. They talk on their phones. They throw things at the actors. They leap to their feet with applause. They use their camera phones to take pictures. They spontaneously clap in the middle of a show. They are entirely unpredictable.

At their worst, I wish the from my post in the tech booth I had a paintball gun or watergun and the opportunity to take out the worst offenders (especially those that not only let their phones ring, but then proceed to answer them).

But at their best they make ME want to burst out in spontaneous applause.

Following tonight's performance of Jesus, My Boy we had a talk back. We do it once in the run of every show (and sometimes more often if the show has a more controversial subject matter), and we tend to get a really good turn out. Tonight about half of the audience stayed, and since we had a full house that means that one side of the theatre was full for the talk back.

Now I don't know if any of you have experience with theatre talk backs, but they tend to be pretty much the same every time. People mention how much they loved the show and then they ask the actors "How did you learn all those lines!" Sometimes they go further, but often you really have to prompt the audience to ask questions.

But tonight was different.

I don't know what it was about tonight, but the audience was extremely well educated about theatre and the questions just kept coming. I must have told them that I was only taking one more question four or five times. And the questions were smart:

Q: How did you guys integrate the music with the script? Did you just decided or did you figure it out as you went?

A: Artistic Director Ron Reed had the idea to add music to the script about three years ago and when director Sarah Rodgers signed on to do the show, Ron handed her the script and Sheree & Jeremy's CDs. She listened to them and read the script and sent them an e-mail with the songs she thought would work and where she thought they might go. On the first day of rehearsal at our first read Sheree & Jeremy played the songs in those places and most of them are in the same place (moved by a paragraph or so). But the process was organic - more songs were added (including a little Beatles!), tweaked, & one was even written especially for the show (though it moved around within the script three or four times).

Q: The title of the show is Jesus, My Boy, but you never refer to the child as Jesus or the mother as Mary: you just call them "the boy" and "the boy's mother." Do you know why that is?

A: I directed the audience member to take a look at a letter we received from the playwright, John Dowie, that was included at the back of the program which talks about the fact that the play has gone through a variety of names including "The Joseph Story" & most of the time goes by "The Gospel According to Joseph". And one of the reasons for that is by not naming "Mary" or "Jesus" it allows Joseph's story to be the story of one of a number of men at that time, who work as carpenters, & wonder whether or not those prophecies might have pointed to them. At the same time, as David pointed out, it brings even more wonder to the reality of the story of Jesus & this Joseph regardless of one's religious views.

Q:How do you find acting with the audience so close to you?

A (from David Adams): A play cannot happen without an audience, especially in a space like Pacific Theatre where the audience is so close. That's what makes theatre so special - every show is different based on how the audience responds. We are all breathing the same air together and it is a pleasure to do the show with a new audience each night.

But when an audience is that attuned to what is happening, it is a pleasure for me to bring the show to them each night!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Manifesto on Creating

(Photo by Tristan Brand)

: In my first year of university after a one of my first crew calls, I had this real sense of calling to the arts, but I didn't know what that looked like. That night, I wrote in my journal, and what I wrote (with a few edits over the years) has become something of a personal manifesto for me: something that shapes the way I look at the world. At faith. At art. At my relationship to all of those things. And I still don't know where I'm headed, at least not in any concrete sort of way. But I'm certainly enjoying the journey.

I was born to create something. I don't know yet what I am going to be creating, but I know that God has something great planned for me. As a child I wanted to be so many things when I grew up. I wanted to be a nurse, a teacher, a candy store owner, a dancer, a musician, an actress and so many more things. Today I don't know what I will grow up to be, but I know what I will do. I will create. I don't know how I could not create. I think that if I were to stop creating, a part of me would die. To create is to imitate God: a high form of flattery as the saying goes. How could I not create? Creating is my worship. It may not be through music, or prayer, or any other conventional means of worship, but I am worshiping from a part of me that is unique. I am not singing someone else's song. I'm dancing to the beat of my own drummer and I am creating a beautiful dance between me and God.

Would you care to dance?

Hanging out with the Step-Father of the Son of God

(From L-R: Sheree Plett, Jeremy Eisenhauer, Lois Dawson, David Adams & Julie Sutherland.)
(Photo by Damon Calderwood.)
When it comes right down to it I am pretty damn lucky. I get to spend my days in a place I love, doing a job I love, and, if I'm lucky (like I am this month!), working with people I love.

This afternoon we did our archival photo shoot for Jesus, My Boy. Photos from the shoot will go on the Pacific Theatre website, in our future season brochures, and will be used for grant applications. Mostly, I just like to have some of the group photos for my personal collection.

The thing about theatre is that it is so transient: Today there is this group of people on these stairs, wearing these clothes and saying these words, but in a month that will be gone. We will be starting again with a new group of people. It's nice to have these reminders of each group when a new group comes in and you miss the way a certain actor gave hugs, or the types of jokes that others cracked. Or if you, like me, sometimes ask yourself why on earth you ever thought that theatre was a good idea in the first place, the photos are a good reminder of why it is that we do what we do. (Of course, I also have a folder of e-mails from theatre patrons that I read at that point as well).

One of my favorite cast/crew photos was from this season's opener; Mourning Dove.
(From L-R: Angela Konrad, Anita Wittenberg, Ron Reed, Laura VanDyke, Kerry van der Griend, & Lois Dawson)
(Photo by Damon Calderwood)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Feed the Lake

Back in early September, my friend Angela wrote a blog post following her attendance at Bard's production of The Tempest. In it she talks about learning that there is no point in jealousy becuase when one artist succeeds we all end up winning. She said:
The problem is, I have a degree in directing and I've been doing it for a long time but I don't know that I could create a work this accomplished. So for part of the performance I was torn between admiration and dejection - "wow this is really good/wow that's really depressing" -something like that... But when a truly gifted artist creates a work for others to share, we get the present. My life was enriched by the production I saw tonight and as a result, my work will be enriched.
It was a sentiment she echoed after she and I attended Unity: 1918 a couple of weeks back.

But further in the post she talks about an image that appears in Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art (which is, by the way, one of my top arts reads, regardless of faith orientation. L'Engle was the talented writer behind A Wrinkle in Time.). She discusses an analogy drawn by Jean Rhys in which art is a lake and the artists of the world are various sizes of rivers, streams, & trickles.

She quotes Rhys as saying
"I don't matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake."
I love that image. The idea that all of art is this giant lake (actually I'd like to jump in and bathe in it - let it soak into my soul!), and that regardless of the size of our contribute we must continue to feed the lake.

Often, as a Stage Manager, I forget that I am also responsible for feeding the lake. I want to leave that role to the directors, actors & designers whose work is so clearly art. But creating a space in which it is possible for those artists to produce (and even better: to thrive!) is an art all its own, and I need to remember that when I get down about my role in the process.

Feed. The. Lake.

(Edited by SMLois, Dec. 3, 11:15pm)

15 Questions with Lois

Date & place of birth:

May 2, 1986; Vernon, BC

Lives now in:

Vancouver, BC


BA from Trinity Western University with a double major in Theatre & Communications, and a certificate in Media Studies.

If you hadn’t become a stage manager, what might you have done professionally?

I've changed my mind about my career goals many times: the first plan was to do PR in the music industry, but I think that if I were not stage managing, I'd probably go back to school and get my masters in television studies and end up as a professor.

Favourite plays:

Metamorphoses (Mary Zimmerman), Esspresso (Lucia Frangione), Proof (David Auburn), Jake's Gift (Julia Mackey), The Mistakes Madeline Made (Elizabeth Meriwether)

Favourite TV shows (currently airing):

Pushing Daisies (ABC), Dexter (Showtime), How I Met Your Mother (CBS)

Favourite TV shows (no longer airing):

Veronica Mars (UPN/CW), Arrested Development (Fox), Wonderfalls (Fox), Six Feet Under (HBO), Slings & Arrows (Movie Channel/The Movie Network), Joan of Arcadia (CBS) & Dead Like Me (Showtime)

What was the last thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?

The last thing I saw on stage that had a big impact on me was UBC's production of Unity: 1918 a couple of week's ago. It is an award winning script (and with good reason!), but this production was so visibly stunning. The image of a spinning lantern dangling from the ceiling, a wounded soldier returning on a train (done with the actor standing on a chair on a revolve while a train track was flown in from the ceiling), a giant bonfire and revival meeting behind a cyc, a room full of dead bodies, a scene done entirely in the dark. Each image had the potential to fail hugely, but rather than fail, they inspired.

And the first?

The first play I ever saw was a local production of Annie when I was about six which sort of set up for me the fact that theatre was out there, but the first play that really had an impact on me was the Art's Club's 2001 presentation of Axis Theatre's Flying Blind. My high school was very arts focused and each semester the theatre teacher would take approximately 60 kids on a trip to either Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton to see mulitple productions and learn about the education opportunities in each city. The 2001 Vancouver trip was my first of three, and it was a very eye opening five days in regards to what theatre is capable of. We saw Elizabeth Rex at the Stanley, The Edible Woman at the Playhouse, some terrible musical review at the Gateway, & Flying Blind. What stuck out for me about Flying Blind was it's use of design to help shape the world. I've never been an actor - though I can recognize and appreciate good acting - but I've always been impressed by strong visual elements. I remember after the play going out for pizza with the rest of the people on the trip and discussing the show. I was one of only two students who enjoyed it (along with the two escorts). Everyone else "didn't get it" or thought that it was too abstract. I didn't care whether or not I "got" it - I just wanted to do that - create a world similar to our own, yet not our own that causes people to converse.

Favourite books:

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L'Engle, the PostSecret books by Frank Warren, & Life After God by Douglas Coupland

Favourite after-show haunts:

Anywhere near Pacific Theatre that still has it's kitchen open when the show gets out: lately that's been either Earls, Cactus Club, or Cafe Barney. We used to always go to Ouisi's but the service there has gotten atrocious and the kitchen has been closing much earlier (besides, who really wants to eat alligator all the time?)

What do you expect to be doing in five years?

I've told myself that if in five years I am bored or burnt out from Stage Managing I will go back to school and do my masters in television studies after all.

What are the personal things that you do in your life simply because they make you happy?

Spend a whole day on the couch watching old TV episodes on DVD even though I've seen them 10+ times, try to laugh as much as possible, take photographs whenever I'm having fun so that I can look at them later and smile.

What would you advice would you give the government to secure the future of Canadian theatre?

I would advise the government that first and foremost, "Ordinary Canadians" really do care about the arts, I would advise reversing the millions of dollars in cuts to arts funding, I would advise the leaders to go take in some of the local theatre - independent, ground-breaking work so that they get a glimpse of the magic being created in their own backyards.

Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Jesus, My Boy is running at Pacific Theatre until Dec. 27 and I've already begun prep for Holy Mo, which begins rehearsals mid-January.