Monday, February 4, 2008

I Hear the Sound Of...


Well here I am, back after a few more days off than I would have liked (an "extra-long" weekend, if you like - the weather here in Centre Wellington has been pretty treacherous and getting around was a bit difficult), and I've got lots of new information to share with you about the continuing re-birth of Grinder Productions.

First up, the newsletter is back. Here it is for any of you who aren't yet on the e-mail list (and why aren't you? - Email me at grinder@grinderproductions.org and I'll get you on it!)

I've updated the format of the newsletter, hopefully making it a bit easier to read, and as always, I've tried to make it as informative as as I possibly can. A lot of the information overlaps between the blog and the newsletter, but since you can't really put the blog on your refridgerator (at least not yet) I'm going to keep the newsletter going for the time being. I know that some of you print off the newsletter and place it on brochure racks, in waiting rooms, or tack it on bulletin boards - this is to be encouraged and I thank you profusely for it! If any of you know of anywhere that the newsletter might get picked up and read then please, don't hesitate to spread the word about Grinder!

Well now that we're well into February (and hopefully, on the back half of this long cold winter) I would like to announce what projects the company will be staging over the next couple of months. Some of these you may have heard me talk about before, some of them are seeing the light of day for the first time right here. Of course, events could be added or removed at any time, and all times and dates are subject to change, but here, in brief are the events that I hope will make up the next phase of the Grinder restart.

Saturday, February 9th - Improv Workshop
Okay, so this isn't strictly a "Grinder" event, it's being hosted and organized by the Elora Centre for the Arts, but still, since I'm the instructor for this one it still counts. The workshop will cover all the aspects of Improvisation in the theatre. We'll do a lot of theatre games, "trust" exercises, and work our way up some situational improv games and activities. Please wear comfortable clothing you don't mind getting dirty!Improv was one of my first loves in the theatre business. It really takes very little in the way of special skills or knowledge, just an open mind and a willingness to say "yes, let's!" This particular workshop will be divided into two groups, a morning session for kids aged 10 - 16, and an afternoon session for everyone 17+, but really, Improv is something that people of any age can excel at. I've actually watched children as young as six years old playing improv games and more than keeping up with much older children, and some of the best improv I've ever seen has been done by seniors, who, ironically, often find it easier to let go of their hang-ups and inhibitions than younger people.And Improv skills are by no means limited to the world of theatre. Many large corporations, organizations, even sports teams use many of the same activities we'll be using in the workshop to help build trust and friendship within their membership, to foster creative thinking, improve public presentation and social interaction skills, and build morale. I can tell you from personal experience that some of the closest bonds that I have ever formed have been on projects where an extended period of time was devoted to Improv techniques and group activities, and even now I will often incorporate a couple of improvisational activities into a rehearsal process, sometimes to tackle a specific problem we're having, but quite often just so that the cast and crew have a chance to look at what their doing in a fresh context, and to see their fellow company members in a slightly different light.The cost is $25 for ECA members, and $35 for non-members, which I'm told is very, very reasonable for a workshop like this. To take register please contact the Elora Centre for the Arts at 519-846-9698 or via e-mail at programming@eloracentreforthearts.ca, and tell them you saw it on the Grinder blog!

Friday, February 15th - Dating Disasters
You knew this was coming, didn't you? For weeks you've been hearing me talk about this "Dating Disasters" idea and wondering just what it is. Well it's an un-Valentine's Day treat for everyone who's ever been stood up, dumped, duped or otherwise humiliated in their quest for the perfect match. What we are asking is for everyone to tell us (in 500 words or less) their best romantic "Horror Story." It can be about a blind date that went horribly wrong, or an ex's unique annoying habits, or how you fell for a horrendous pick-up line that turned out to be true. It can be anything, as long as it's disastrous. It doesn't even have to be true! We're asking people to submit their stories via e-mail to grinder@grinderproductions.org by Monday, February 11th. We'll judge the entries and invite the 10 best to come to the Elora Centre for the Arts on Friday, February 15th to read their story live and we'll let the audience vote on who deserves the title of King or Queen of Dating Disasters.

Friday, February 21st and Saturday, February 22nd - Laughing out Loud

Location: TBA

If you've got kids then you may have seen the computer-speak acronym LOL, which means laughing out loud. When I saw that I said to myself, "What a great title for a show!" So I decided to create one. This will be a "variety" show, with short vignettes, maybe a few little songs, whatever else we can come up with that's interesting and unique. Everyone is welcome to participate in this one, so if you've got a "Party Piece:" a song, story, joke or something that you frequently use to entertain dinner guests or the people in the lunch room then we'd love to include it in the show, so feel free to drop me a line and we'll get you on the boards. This show will probably comprise a lot of future blog postings, as I hope to chronicle its creation to a certain degree, as was the case with the Resurrection.

Friday, March 14th and Saturday March 15th - Vintage Gut-Busters

Location: Elora Centre for the Arts

As a companion piece to the above-mentioned Laughing Out Loud, Vintage Gut-Busters will also be a comedy-variety show, but instead of featuring contemporary material we're going to dip into the long history of comedy to find some great classic monkey business, from the Commedia D'ell Arte, to Moliere, Vaudeville and many other places. This show is also an open invitation to anyone that would like to participate, but unless your party piece is a Red Skelton montage you may be stuck with some piece of material I give you. No matter, as the great part about this sort of material is that you know you're getting tried and true "gems" that have worked to entertain audiences for many many years.


Thursday, March 27th to Saturday, March 29th - The Hollow
As I've mentioned before, in my copious amounts of spare time I am directing an Agatha Christie murder-mystery. Actually, this show is by far the largest of all the events we have coming up (even though, again, it's not strictly a Grinder event), and one of the largest events of the entire theatre season in Centre Wellington. The first performance of this show is already sold out, and tickets for the other two nights are selling fast, so I would advise people to get their tickets now, as there is a very real chance that the entire run could be filled by opening night. And it's a great show to catch too. This is the third year I've directed as part of the Agatha Christie Revival Showcase, and it is one of the shows I most look forward to in a given year. As a director, it's one of the most complex projects that undertake, and it provides me with an excellent challenge. Christie's work is solid gold, to be sure, but she was well aware of the possibilities that live theatre afforded her, and she made ample use of these possibilities in her work. She left it up to the director, designers and actors to add their unique touches to her plays in order to make them leap off the stage and into the minds of the audience. We've only just completed the first week of rehearsals, and already I can tell you that I'm having a blast. It's been a long time since I was in the rehearsal hall directing a play, and I'm finding, much to me relief, that the ideas, the connections, the fire, the absolute rush I get from directing actors, it's all coming back to me once again. I leave rehearsals not exhausted but exhilarated, and as we go along I'll try and find as much time on the blog as I can to devote to how this show is progressing along.




Well that's what's coming down the pipe in February and March, folks. As I said, it's all subject to change if something comes up, but at least this is what we're shooting for. By the close of The Hollow on March 29th Grinder will be in a very different place. We'll be on the cusp of starting production work on the summer; ordering scripts, building sets, perhaps even auditioning actors, so you can bet that over the next little while you'll here me talk about the summer as well. Certainly, on the publicity side of things, we've already started things off with this past Saturday's summer-season kick-off announcement, Summer's Coming.
I really started to get excited about the summer after we had finished on Saturday night. I could feel the excitement from the other people in the room as well, and I thought I heard something that I haven't heard around Grinder Productions in quite some time. It was buzz.

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