Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rehearsal Update - Hans Brinker - and come to the parade!

Just a quick note to let you know that Hans Brinker is now well into rehearsals. The set is up, the actors are learning lines, and we're all looking forward to getting onstage in just a few short weeks.

The director seems to have a good hold of things too... which is a welcome relief for me - I'm getting a much-needed break from the Director's chair while we tool up for the winter season.

Also, if you're going to be coming to the Elora Santa Claus Parade tomorrow night watch for the Grinder float! The cast and crew will be there, handing out information on the show and spreading some Christmas cheer. Feel free to come out and join us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Casting - A Midsummer Nights Dream

I thought today I would give you some more information about the characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and what I am thinking of in terms of casting for them. If you or someone you know might be interested in getting involved in this show, please e-mail me at grinder@grinderproductions.org.

The Athenians: These are the upper-class characters in the play.

Theseus - The Duke of Athens, a middle-aged, battle-hardened warrior-ruler.
Hippolyta - Theseus' bride, whom he fought in battle to win her over. She is a Queen of the "Amazons" - an all-female tribe of warriors.
Egeus - Helena's father, a bit old-fashioned - either his daughter wed's the man of his choice or she is banished - or killed.
Lysander - A young man of Athens
Demetrius - A young man of Athens
Helena - A young woman of Athens
Hermia - A young woman of Athens
Philostrate - Theseus' Master of the Revels, a civil servant responsible for gathering entertainment for the Duke's wedding. A good small part for a newbie.

The Mechanicals: These are the workers of Athens, who rehearse and perform a play for the Duke's wedding. They are simple, rustic characters, who make their tragedy "Pyramus and Thisbe" into one of the funniest parts of the play through their very, very bad acting. These roles can be played by either men or women.

Peter Quince - the director of the players
Nick Bottom - a weaver, and great amateur actor
Flute - a bellows mender
Snug - a joiner
Snout - a tinker
Starveling - a tailor

The fairies: These are the mythical creatures who inhabit the forests outside of Athens (though they are actually a reflection of the creatures found in English folk and fairy tales). These roles are for young people.

Oberon - King of the fairies
Titania - Queen of the Fairies
Peaseblossom, Moth, Mustardseed and Cobweb - Fairies who attend on Titania
Puck - aka Robin Goodfellow, he is a sort of "super-fairy" who does things for Oberon, and in many ways serves as the catalyst for action in the play. You wonder whether if it is in fact he who is the one controlling the action.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Laments for the content

I've been a little inattentive to the goings-on of the "theatrosphere" lately, so I've missed this big brouhaha that is apparently going on among theatre bloggers. I guess we're talking so much about the practical side of putting on plays (business models, rehearsal techniques, etc) that the people who are focused on the content of theatre are feeling left out. "The play's the thing" after all, isn't it?

For my two cents worth, I don't think you can separate form and content in theatre. One of the things I noticed many years ago when I was an over-worked, under-paid, borderline-slave of a Production Assistant, was that the conditions of production became the production. If we had to spend all night working onstage for four days straight then the show looked like crap. If we were able to go home and get a good night's sleep it meant that things were going well enough that the show generally looked pretty good. The harder you have to work, the dumber you are working, so it then follows that the quality of your work is directly related to the conditions, experience and assumptions under which you are working.

One of my profs told me one time (in a rare moment of agreement with me) that in theatre we are not "artists," but "artisans." We do not make theatre solely for personal reasons (though there may be a personal motivation to it) - we can only make theatre in a collaborative environment with our audience. I think it's up to them to dictate the content - what they see, like and understand is ultimately what puts food on the actor's/director's/producer's table, not some brilliant new business model for a theatre company. Our job is to fulfill our obligation in this partnership - to create content, yes, but not to judge it, except to improve it, and we can't do that without the feedback of the audience, who in giving back to us (be it through comments, critiques, or simply voting with their feet) are fulfilling their half of the partnership. Through this sybiotic relationship we collectively create the content as two equal players, rather than dictating content from a "master-apprentice" relationship, an idea that many of us seem to cling so desperately to in this business.

Your thoughts?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sneak peak: 2009

I'm happy to report that both of our final shows in 2008 are now into rehearsal/preparations, and the company is still in strong enough financial shape that we can now begin to look ahead just a little be to the start of 2009.

Now January is one of the most difficult months of the year to put on plays - the weather is terrible, it's hard to get out to rehearsals and shows, people have usually had enough "social time" over the holidays and are staying at home, and money is at its tightest as the holiday bills come in. So usually there isn't much going on in theatres at this time of year: it's often the time to re-group, do some maintenance, and get caught up on chores, and perhaps even take some badly-needed vacation in a sunnier climate.

At Grinder we don't quite have the luxury of a week in Bora Bora (not that the thought hasn't crossed my mind), and we will have programming January, as well as programming in February and March, so as to ensure that the company has more time to build actors, audiences and production experience before we embark on the 2009 summer season, which will be our most ambitious to date (more to follow on that a few more blog posts down the road).

While I'm not ready to reveal all our secrets just yet, I thought I would let you know about the first show that we will be bringing you in 2009, a show that will open up a new frontier for the company.

We are going to tackle a play written by the greatest writer in the English language: William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

They call this play "Shakespeare's happiest comedy," and I couldn't agree more. It's story of young lovers, an impromptu group of amateur thespians, and the fairies of English folklore, all coming together to bicker, threaten, make mistakes, and then reconcile with each other, and end up doing each other great acts of kindness.

I've wanted to dive into the world of classical theatre for a long time, and "The Dream" is the perfect chance to do it. Its language isn't hard to understand, and its themes are still just as relevant today as when the play was written. I don't think any actor or audience member who is willing to listen closely to Shakespeare's words will have any trouble understanding what is going on. In fact, this play has ample opportunity to use actors of every age, and I'm looking forward to asking some of the youngest talents we have a Grinder to join us this show.

Think you've got what it takes? Maybe you've wanted to try your hand at Shakespeare but have been a bit nervous - this is the play for you.

Let me know if you are interested, and I'll see what I can do to get you on board.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hans Brinker - Enough posts already!

I know you're likely getting sick of seeing Hans Brinker posts - don't despair!

There are other things going on at the company, and we will have more to tell you about them next week.

But we lost a couple of actors at the last second and are still looking for some cast members for this show. If you or someone you know might be interested, please have them e-mail grinder@grinderproductions.org or call 519-780-7593 ASAP.

This show is open-ended enough that we can take either boys or girls in their teenage years, and possibly a couple of adults as well.

Please pass this along to anyone you know who might be able to help us out.

Thanks!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hans Brinker - For Immediate Release

Dutch Christmas Classic at the Fergus Grand Theatre

For Immediate Release

Grinder Productions is pleased to present Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, a Christmas show for the entire family, December 18th, 19th and 20th at the Fergus Grand Theatre.

This classic Dutch Christmas story is known to many, about a poor but noble family, a deep secret, and an incredible act of kindness, but for those who aren’t familiar with the events this story the play will serve as a wonderful introduction. Written in a light-hearted, easy-to-understand manner, this show is perfect for children and families. Its large cast of performers young and old features some of the best and brightest at Grinder Productions, as well as some new faces coming to our stage for the first time ever.

Grinder Productions Creative and Executive Director Eric Goudie is very happy to see this show coming together this Holiday season.

“When I first chose the show, the economy was doing fine,” he says. “Since then, things have gotten a lot worse, and there are now going to be a lot more people right here in Centre Wellington who will face many of the same hardships as the Brinker Family this Christmas. While I wish the company itself was financially able to give back directly to the community, at least we can bring you a fun, uplifting, family-friendly show that even brought a smile to my often cynical face!”

Tickets for the show are $15 each, with a group rate of $12 each for groups of ten or more. But most importantly for this show, children (and teens participating in the Eyego program) can get their tickets for just $5. Goudie hopes that this will make it possible for young people to come to the show who would not have otherwise been able to.

“I’m so happy when I see young people coming through the doors of the theatre. Coming to a play can be such a rewarding, beneficial experience for a child, and it helps to instill in them a lifelong love of the arts.”

Tickets are available by calling the Fergus Grand Theatre box office at 519-787-1981, or visiting the theatre at 244 St. Andrew St. West in Fergus. For more infomation on Hans Brinker or any other Grinder event please visit the website, www.grinderproductions.org.


For interviews, photo opportunities and other information please contact Eric Goudie at girnder@grinderproductions.org or by calling 519-780-8593.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where else am I blowing hot air these days?

Just thought everyone might like to look at my burgeoning portfolio on Helium. I know I've referenced individual articles in the past, and I'll be putting as much time and effort into writing more articles in the days and weeks ahead (so as to have my efforts rewarded with lunch money), so I encourage you to check out my thoughts on such riveting titles as:

Why it is important to introduce children to theatre
The Best Elizabethan Plays and Playwrights
Technical Theatre Appreciation

or other non-theatre titles such as...
Home Electricity 101
Why training in trades might be better than colleges for most
Small Business Ownership: Trials and Joys

That, plus a few titles I've written for surrounding political topics (that are actually in the "marketplace" on the site and are in consideration for wider publication) makes up my current portfolio, but I'm still very early in this new process and will be adding more articles every day.

Click here for the link. Thanks for your support.

Still an ink-stained hack

I apologize for not posting this yesterday - I was "kickin' it old school" and working offline. The following was written over a cup of coffee, surrounded by madness, just like in the old days before I could afford a laptop:

I've finished an article recently at Helium.com about "Discouraging Trends in today's Theatre." (click here for the link)

I encourage you to read the article, but if you've been in this business for any length of time at all you can probably come up with your own laundry list of complaints about the state of the theatre business as easily as I did.

There's so much we don't have to be proud of. Like George Bush's America, theatre is a waning superpower, but without the mixed-race messiah. I ended my article asking why we, as a community, were simplly lamenting the situation, instead of actually doing something about it.

So why aren't we? Why are we letting things get so far away rom us that Time Magazine claims that "You" are now the person of the year? Surely we have something of value still to contribute to society at large, and by contribute I mean more than a never-ending string of cheap sex farces.

I don't think it's a case of needing to simply dig a little deeper. It's a case of getting outside our collective boxes, and not asking how we can make theatre better, but how we can make the world better through that thing we call theatre, whatever it may be.

There are no sacred cows left to slaughter. Maybe we can't even call it theatre anymore, or "art" or whatever it is you choose to call it.

Thoughts, anyone?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Holiday Season Programming at Grinder - Part 2

Hans Brinker

Those of you who have been around Grinder for a while may be familiar with the “Christmas curse.” Every year since the company’s inception we have chosen to bring our patrons some holiday programming. But every year Fate has gotten in the way. Let’s not let that happen again this year!

Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, is the stage adaptation of the classic Dutch children’s Christmas story. It has all the excitement and high drama you would expect of any Christmas story, with a moral heart and beautiful story woven in. It is the perfect holiday entertainment for the entire family, and with our children’s price of $5 remaining intact it’s still an economical choice in these difficult times. The show will go up December 18th, 19th and 20th at the Fergus Grand Theatre.

We are still looking for a few boys ages 13 to 16 to help us out with this show. If you or anyone you know of would fill the bill, please have them get in touch with us at grinder@grinderproductions.org.

But most importantly, come out and see the play! When we say we need your support, this is the single best way you can give it – by being one of those much coveted “bums in seats.” Nothing will help us more! Call the Fergus Grand Box Office at 519-787-1981 and get your tickets!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Holiday Season Programming at Grinder - Part 1

Poverty Anonymous

Somewhat ironically, we are a company in financial distress that has a play coming up about being in financial distress. This show is a presentation of several individual stories, none of them true but all of them plausible, by people who are at a “poverty anonymous” meeting, where the format is similar to any other “anonymous” meeting. June, the plucky, determined moderator, is steadfast in her belief that poverty is a crime, and that only through showing these poor, unfortunate souls the errors of their ways can she make them productive, prosperous members of society once again. Little does she realize, however, that just maybe the “criminals” that have come out to this particular meeting have a thing or two to show her…

This is a light-hearted, very satirical look at how the rich and poor get along. I’ve at a ringside seat to this for several years now to this subtle farce, so I thought it would be interesting to bring it to the stage.

But, we need your help…

We need actors for this event! No rehearsals (I’ll e-mail you your script and you just memorize your bit) – just show up on December 4th, 5th and 6th at the Elora Centre for the Arts, and bring as many friends as you can possibly find.

To become involved please e-mail grinder@grinderproductions.org.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Improv Course Information

Here, as promised, is all the information you'll need to register for the 8 week course I'll be co-facilitating this winter at the Elora Centre for the Arts. It's going to be a fast, fun, funny experience, and one you don't need any special skills or training to be good at - just an open mind and your imagination. I really would love to see you there.

Click here to go to the ECFTA Website for more information.

Improv Group Ages 16 & up
Mondays, January 19 – March 9
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
$60 Member / $75 Non-member

An eight week course that can change your life! You don’t have to be funny to take part in this group, nor do you need to have experience in acting. A willingness to think outside of the box would be a great asset! You will enjoy 8 weeks of theatre games, team building exercises and trust exercises, as well as, situational and improvised games and activities, all within a relaxed and supportive environment. Please wear comfortable clothing & shoes – we’ll be getting dirty!
Instructors: Eric Goudie, Jennifer Merry

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Magic is Back

Good Monday morning to you all,

You may have noticed that over the past couple of weeks things have been a bit choppy here on the blog, and those of you who have any insights into my personal life will know why. The past two weeks have been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for me and for the company. I'll spare you all the sordid details, such as they are, but suffice it to say that I've been a bit of a mess this past little while, and it has shown itself here and in other places. I am now in the process of cobbling things back together, and you, gentle reader, are only one of a great many people I would like to apologize to, and to thank for putting up with me over the past couple of weeks.

We have a lot of work ahead of us here at Grinder. Just like last year, we've had some pretty un-spectacular box office returns this fall, and we are once again in some pretty dire financial straights. So, in an attempt to improve the bottom line I have returned to the world of freelance writing to try and make a little bit of extra cash to tide the company over until the spring. If there's anyone out there who needs blogging, copywrighting or any other writing, simple web design or graphics work done please don't hesitate to e-mail me at grinder@grinderproductions.org and I'll be eager to take on any reasonable project for a reasonable fee. I've started my journey over at Helium.com, an online writer's market of sorts, where there is a lively atmosphere of debates, freelance jobs and even some writing contests. Click here to view some of my work over there (and feel free to rate or even contribute some articles on there yourself!)

Now there's also something else that's coming down the pipe at Grinder, something that I can't tell you too much about today, but that we will be launching January 1st. It's something that's going to add a whole new dimension to the company, and just maybe add a whole new dimension to the theatre business while we're at it.

Words to live by. It's great to be back.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Holiday Season at Grinder

Just a quick note today to let you know that next week we will be launching our extensive holiday season promotional and goodwill campaigns. Please see next Thursday's posting for all the details. I want the next six weeks to be a very special time for our company and its membership, a chance for us to share with others the very best of what makes Grinder Productions what it is - you and your talents.

Season's Greetings from Grinder Productions

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ECT's You're Lucky if You're Killed Opens this Friday

Come on down to the grand and check out this important show!

See info here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Improv Class at the Elora Centre for the Arts

I'm teaching a class this winter!

The Elora Centre for the Arts is offering a class in Improv that will begin in January and run for 8 weeks, concluding with a small performance. We'll cover all the basics of improv, through games, trust exercises and other activities. Please check out the ECA website for all the details.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Doom and Gloom

In case you hadn't heard, the economy has gone to pot.

The stock market is in shambles, unemployment is rising, credit is "crunched" and the world appears headed for a significant recession. A few of the darkest prophets of death are almost ready to utter the d-word. No, not deficit: depression.

It won't be long before we begin to hear more and more people make comparisons between the 1930's and the present calamities. Perhaps these claims are overstated or perhaps they are justified - I don't claim to have the head for figures necessary to say with any certainty just how bad the coming months and possibly years will be.

I do know that through all the doom and gloom there will continue to be live theatre. Wherever you can find "two planks and a passion" you will find theatre. So don't despair theatre lovers - the sets may be a little shabbier, the plays a little more obsucre and the venues a little more rudimentary (maybe next summer will see a growth in the number of outdoor productions), but we theatre people are far too addicted to this to ever give it up. We may go hungry, but we will not go away from our theatres.

And you can take that to the bank.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November Newsletter now available

Get your copy of the November Newsletter right here, folks. Enjoy!