Sunday, August 16, 2009

Please Change Your Feeds

It has come to my attention that in the course of my change over to wordpress my feeds are no longer the same. If you have been subscribing to this blog and have not yet switched over, click on through to and hit the "subscribe" button so you don't miss out on any new posts!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Blog Location

Hello Readers!

I've gone off the deep end and moved my blog over to my personal domain permanently. You may have to update your feeds. Please head on over to and see the new and improved site!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Winds & Woes of Outdoor Theatre

Yesterday started out as a normal rehearsal day: Wake up, check the weather (twice), and then head to site for the day. The forecast included a 30% chance of thundershowers, but with light winds and almost no rain, so we pushed forward. About 2 hours into rehearsal the winds began gusting - we're estimating about 80 km/hr and we began to scramble to get the site secured so it wouldn't get wrecked.
The winds were so strong that our fencing was blowing sideways, and after getting pushed around trying to keep it upright, we finally gave up and lay it down on the ground and began to focus on securing the tents which were trying to take off. At the same time we were being hit by gusts of wind that started to knock over the front rows of seats.
The wind did not want to stop there though! It decided that tree branches should no longer be remaining in trees, and once the large branches started falling on stage, we decided that for safety's sake we all needed to leave the site and head to safer grounds. The dust was flying and getting in everyone's eyes, and if the tents did pick up we did not want to be under them.

Today's forecast is for thunderstorms again, so hopefully we don't have to cancel opening night.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome to the rehearsal hall

During my time as a stage manager I have come to strongly believe that the atmosphere of the rehearsal hall is one of my key contributions to the rehearsal process. This contribution takes a few different shapes.

First of all, it is important to maintain an atmosphere of respect and safety - a place where actors are comfortable being vulnerable and are able to do their best work. In and of itself this charge takes numerous forms. It can mean covering over a mirror in a dance studio so that actors aren't checking themselves out instead of looking at their scene partner. It can mean silencing a group of actors waiting for their scene or asking them to wait in another room while scenes are being worked. It can mean talking to the director and encouraging him/her to give more positive notes after running scenes & acts to keep spirits up. It can mean being the listening ear for an actress who has just found out that her costume is essentially a spandex cat-woman suit. Each of these things help to create a safe environment.

The second part to creating a good rehearsal hall atmosphere has to do with the room itself. Most rehearsal halls are dark and dingy. Rooms rented out for this sort of thing that never get cleaned. I've been lucky on my current show to be rehearsing in a dance studio that is closed for the summer. We have separate rooms for each show, so we can put things on the wall and not have to worry about taking them down at night. We also had access to a kitchen, so I didn't set up a coffee station in the room as I usually would. But our walls are full of show related things.

When costume designer Bonnie Pavlovic did her design presentation for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead she had renderings for the three main characters: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, & The Player, but instead of individual renderings for our 6 ensemble members who play all of the Hamlet roles as well as creating the ensemble of travelling players, she created these collages of 60's icons Each ensemble member, she explained, would be dressed as one of these icons, but she was waiting to see them to pick their inspiration. We hung her collages in the rehearsal hall so whenever the actors had questions about their look it was easy to check the photos, but it also gave the room a bit more warmth & some of the flavor of the show.Our rehearsal schedule began with a week of working just with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and one of the excersises the director did that week was a series of tableaus: waiting, hopeful, hopeless, etc. Of each tableau we took photos and hung them on the wall. These photos became inspirations for blocking moments, as well as something else about our show to have on the wall, making the room feel like it was ours.

One of the complications of doing Hamlet & Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in rep is that the cut of Hamlet we are doing doesn't always line up with the Hamlet lines that have been inserted in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. In an effort to make that transition easier for people who have the same speech in both shows except in one show there is an added line here and a removed line there, I created text comparisons. Providing the dialogue for the scene from each show side-by-side so that any confusion could be quickly cleared up.

This sign is compliments of the director, and I think is as much for her own benefit as for that of the company. However, we all need to be reminded, especially during the rehearsal process, that we need to "Keep Calm & Carry On".

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Arts Quotes: Slings and Arrows Season 1

Ever since I got to Kamloops I have been missing live theatre. It's been a month since I've seen a show and will be another month until I see another. In an effort to appease my soul's desire to see live shows, I've been watching Slings and Arrows. If you've never heard of the show, it's time you watched it. All of it.

In the meantime, let me present you with a couple of quotes from the first season when the fictional theatre company produces "Hamlet".

"Cheer up, Hamlet; chin up, Hamlet; buck up, you melancholy Dane! So your uncle is a cad who murdered Dad and married Mum. That's really no excuse to be as glum as you've become! So wise up, Hamlet; rise up, Hamlet; perk up and sing a new refrain. Your incessant monologizing fills the castle with ennui. Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see. And by the way, you sulky brat, the answer is to be! You're driving poor Ophelia insane. So shut up, you rogue and peasant; grow up, it's most unpleasant; cheer up, you melancholy Dane!"
- Act 1 Theme Song

"There are some of you who will be terrified to learn that I'm going to take over direction of this play. There are others who will be thrilled because they know that in my production there will be little danger of you stepping in a pile of horse shit. But I think that there is one thing that both, the pro-Geoffrey and the anti-Geoffrey, camps can agree upon and that is, that my reason may very well be hanging by a thread. Well, my friends, it is my belief that the best of happens just before the thread snaps"
- Geoffry Tennant

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to make great theatre:

The director for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern ran across this book at a local second-hand bookstore. subtitled "A handbook for the Backstage worker; a guidebook for the Student of Drama" this book is a joke.

The sample of a "good" promptbook is ridiculous: notes scribbled everywhere & no sense of order to it.

For the actors among us, the book presents the proper way to sit in a chair, the variety of ways one can pose with certain furniture. We've also got the correct & wrong ways to embrace, foot positions & how the first step should be.

One of my favorites is this graph of how a laugh on stage works.

and if you're looking for advice on aging makeup they have that too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The June Review & July "To See" List

Leaving town June 14th really did make it next to impossible to see anything in Vancouver during the month of June.

I did see Othello at Bard, but was not thrilled by the production. I attended a preview and the cast was still tripping over the set, costumes & at times their lines. Hopefully I will make it to a studio stage show by the end of the summer, but I do not know how that will work.

As for VACT's Flower Drum Song, I made my way to see it and then found out that their weekday matinee began at 1pm, not 2pm, so I had missed the first 40 min. They offered to still sell me a ticket and let me watch the rest, but at that point I was frustrated and uninterested. The lesson I learned from that: Always triple check performance times. Just because every other matinee is at 2pm, doesn't mean the one you are attending is.

I'll be continuing to live in Kamloops throughout the month of July, and as far as I know nothing else is playing in town during that time. This is a sad theatrical drought, but I have no doubt that I will be seeing oodles of plays when I return to Vancouver this fall (date TBC).

Happy Canada Day

Having spent my day in rehearsal for my summer shows, I didn't have a chance to take any pictures of what it means for me to be Canadian....

....but my dad did.

So here, in all his glory, is my father celebrating Canada day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reading Plays 2: 7 Stories

In honor of Canada Day this Wednesday, I decided that this week would be geared to Canadian playwrights.

7 Stories is one of those plays that being from Vancouver, everyone has seen, talks about, etc. I have never seen it and had never read it before now. But I certainly went into it knowing the basic plot: A man stands on a seventh storey building ledge, preparing to jump to his death but is constantly interrupted by the building's residents.

What I didn't know (but should have suspected) was how wonderfully quirky the 12 building resident characters are. Played by only 4 actors, the 12 characters are a great mix of comical and tragic with a lovely hint of neuroses.

I would love to see a production of this show. There is a lot of potential for interesting design choices as well as the variety of ways the shows ending could be perceived by various directors.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Arts Quotes: R&G Edition

In the past two weeks of rehearsing Rosencrantz & Guildenstern I've picked out a handful of my favorite quotes, some about what it means to be actors and others just because they make me smile. Enjoy.

"We keep to our usual stuff, more or less, only inside out. We do onstage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else." - Player, R&G

"We're the actors - we're the opposite of people" - Player, R&G