Thursday, January 3, 2008

Second Steps

At the end of day 1 I'm feeling pretty good overall about how the re-start is progressing. I admit I haven't gotten as much accomplished as I had hoped to by this point, but at least things aren't piling up to overwhelming levels right off the bat, and with a few quiet nights in I'm hoping that we can get things completely caught up.

I dropped into the Elora Centre for the Arts to say hi to Karen Peters, the administrator, who promptly reminded me of the one thing that I left off of my last posting! On Saturday, February 9th I will be teaching a one-day workshop at the ECA on Improv. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this type of theatre it's where the stories, characters dialogue and sometimes even language are made up on the spot, often in response to some randomly drawn words or ideas, sometimes chosen by the audience, once in a while even set to music! It's a fun, simple, creative form of theatre that anyone with an open mind and a pulse can enjoy. There will be a session in the morning for kids ages 10-16 from 10am to 12pm, and then a session for adults in the afternoon from 1pm to 4pm. The cost to register is $25 for ECA members and $35 for non-members. For more information or to register you can call 519-846-9698 or e-mail

There! I hope I've made Karen happy with me once again. I will be most likely talking more about my preparations for this workshop as time goes along, so this won't be the final time it shows up here. And while I'm on this cross-promotional bent I should tell you that mine is just one of many workshops for children and adults the Elora Centre for the Arts is offering this winter, in addition to all their other regular programming. The building really is a cultural windfall for all of Centre Wellington, as it acts as a focal point for all the artists in the community, combining visual and performing arts with other community activities, and I encourage you to check out their website ( and see what they have to offer this week.

As far as the rest of the Grinder re-start goes, there's still much work to be done. I spent a little time at the library yesterday (remember those places you used to go to find information before the internet?) brainstorming some ideas for material for this "Bad Words" show. This show must be highly entertaining. I don't know how many of you sat through the interminable boredom of university lectures but as someone who has I would never wish to subject my patrons to that level of torture, and that's what this show could easily morph into if I'm not careful. Now by the same token I don't want to "dumb down" the content because I don't think my audience will understand the material, that's just rude, and as far as I'm concerned, if someone doesn't understand you then it's your fault, not theirs (most of the time, anyways). So this won't be a first-year lecture delivered by some pickled old sod from the some wannabe-Ivy League Canadian post-secondary money pit. It will be fun, funny, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, but always, always entertaining.

I could launch into a diatribe about how the Canadian theatre scene long ago split into the "entertaining" and "enlightened" (or as I like to call it, "grant-receiving") factions, and how the post-secondary institutions in this country have helped to perpetuate this schism, resulting in class after graduating class of highly trained, highly talented waiters and waitresses who make "art" for three weeks a year thanks to the Canada Council, but I won't. Suffice to say that this company continues on thanks to its patrons, not the taxpayers.

The other important development from Day 1 has been the confirmation that we have the Ennotville Library for Saturday, February 2nd for Summer's Coming, our show about all the shows we'll be doing in Ennotville and Belwood this June, July and August. I have been talking to a few people about the shows I'd like to do this summer, but I haven't made a full, formal annoucement as of yet, and I think I'll hold off until then. I'm pretty sure about six out of the seven shows I would like to do, all that remains is for me to settle on the last one (I'm not sure how many times you can say certain four-letter words before the stop being funny and start being annoying - and I know my tastes are often quite different from many of our patrons), and to get the best running order. Oh yeah, and confirm seven directors. Like last summer, I'm really hoping not to direct any of the shows myself and unlike last summer, I think this summer I have a realistic shot at making that happen.

Finally, I have to do some thinking about what sort of things, if any, the company can do between now and the start of the summer. Sure, January is busy, but once we get into February and March the Agatha Christie will be taking up the bulk of my time, and that's also a very good time to get a jump on production and promotion for the summer. By April 1st we'll only have a month before the first summer show goes into rehearsal, and the last thing I want to do is to go into the summer burnt out. Nonetheless, you can't stay in business if you don't make some income, and the company will surely need to do something over that period. I'm already actively mulling over this "Dating Disasters" idea (I keep promising to tell you about that, don't I) for February, but that's just a one-off, and I don't have much concrete planned beyond that. Suggestions welcomed, as always, but no promises. I've learned my lesson when it comes to staging events just because somebody thinks it will be the biggest money-maker since, well, the invention of printed money.

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