Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Greetings from Grinder Productions!

On behalf of Julie and myself I want to wish all of you all the best this holiday season, and to say thank-you for all that you have done to help us make Grinder Productions such a glowing success over the past year. We've come a very long way, with 16 productions in 2008, over four venues. The next year promises to bring even more productions, with new and exciting challenges, including our newest division, Hopeless Romantics. I hope you'll join us again in 2009, be it onstage, backstage or in the audience.

Thanks again, and Happy Holidays,

Eric Goudie
Creative and Executive Director
Grinder Productions

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hans Brinker Wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this show a success!

We played to one of the largest total audiences Grinder has enjoyed in a run at the Grand in quite a while, and that was due to the hard work and dedication of the cast and crew, who went above and beyond both onstage and off, and ensured that busy schedules, a fridgid rehearsal hall, no production budget and chronic casting maladies didn't get the show off-track. Everyone worked hard to get the word out about the show, sell tickets, and they were well-rewarded for their efforts. On behalf of myself and the world's greatest fiance, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you everyone.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Need some last-minute gifts?

Just a quick reminder - you can get Gift Certificates and Grinder Cards directly from me, and books and plays at our online storefront on lulu.com. Also, I'll be offering up Acting Lessons in the new year to anyone who's interested, as well as teaching an improv course at the Elora Centre for the Arts.

Give the gift of Grinder this Christmas, and let someone else know how great it to dare to be different!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hans Brinker Opens Tonight


Just a quick note to let you know that Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, opens this evening at 8pm at the Fergus Grand Theatre, and runs Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with a 2pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are $15 adult, and $5 for children, and are available by calling the Fergus Grand Theatre box office at 519-787-1981. This is a show the entire family can enjoy, so come one, come all and take in a little bit of holiday magic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We're back!

Never let it be said the Canadian Theatre business is as backwards as the Canadian Telecommunications business!

After many days of wrangling with the powers that be Grinder Productions is now connected to the outside world once again.

We're now comfortably ensconced in the tiny 19th century farmhouse on the property, and it is from here that I will endure the painfully slow speed of dial-up to bring you most of my posts from now on (sorry, the vblogging is going to have to wait until they get DSL out here).

While I've been offline the company has been very, very active, getting ready for Hans Brinker, our holiday family production. Tickets are moving quite well for this show, but please, please do try to make it out to see it at some point this weekend if you are able. The cast and crew have really worked hard on this one, and we've gained a lot of fresh faces to the company that I hope we can work with again on future shows. On top of that, the show itself is a lot of fun, and I'm sure you and your family will enjoy it.

That's all for today - I've got a lot of catching up to do - but if you're still here, thanks for sticking with me, and I hope we'll see you this weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who said life was fair?

I've been reading Benjamin Johnson's What's the Deal with being an actor? posts over on the Theatre is Territory blog, where he tries to give professional English-speaking thespians some tips on taking their chances on the Tokyo theatre scene. He is quick to point out the "culture shock" that us over-coddled Westerners should brace ourselves for, and there's definitely a twinge or two of dismay in his voice when he talks about some of the working conditions over there, and how ordinary Japanese, for the most part, simply seem to sit there and take it. He takes particular issue with the "the culture of unfair business practices towards artists (and employees in general)" and that particular phrase was enough to toast my cookies (as the world's greatest fiance is so fond of saying).

As my Grade 8 French teacher, an immigrant who had escaped the poverty and political oppression of his native Haiti, was so fond of saying to us - Who said life was fair! You could be putting on a play in Tokyo, Toronto or Tukiaki Fails and there would still be people and politics unfairly standing in your way. Just because you should be treated with respect and decency doesn't mean you should be surprised when it isn't there. In Canada we have a repressive, regressive arts granting and funding system, heavy-handed censorship (or at least we will if they ever get the bill passed) and a hopelessly disconnected academia that refuses to teach our aspiring actors, producers, directors and designers any of the skills they actually need to earn a living wage. Not fair! Damn right! Will complaining about it or moving to Tokyo fix things? Hell no!

I write extensively on this blog about what I think are the problems of Canadian theatre, and I guess Mr. Johnson's experiences suggest that many of the challenges we face manifest themselves in similar ways around the world. However, I take issue with leaving things at a simple "poor us" whine-without-the-cheese party. As theatre people we have an obligation to change things, to make them better, for ourselves and others. So please, to all the bloggers out there, stop with the whining already. Let's hear some actual solutions to empty theatres, ballooning costs and the inability to feed a family of four on a theatre person's income.

It might not be easy, but if we want to survive, it's necessary. In Japan, much of the willingness to log countless hours of unpaid overtime, forego luxuries like theatre tickets and put up with unscrupulous business practices in order to work comes from the tragedy of Japanese history, where a once-proud, never-defeated people were obliterated, immasculated and forced to endure occupation and rule by a foreign govenment. Lacking economic, political or moral authority, Japan still rebuilt from the ashes to become a leading power in less than two generations. Perhaps we theatre people, relegated to the cultural margins by TV, Movies and the Internet, could learn a thing or two about rising above what's fair and unfair, and turning what we have into something amazing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wrap-ups

Just a quick note to say thank-you to everyone who came out to help us with this year's Santa Claus Parades, and a big thank-you to everyone who came out hear Poverty Anonymous at the Elora Centre for the Arts this past weekend. Every little bit truly helps!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gift Ideas from Grinder Productions

The Grinder Card – A Great Gift Idea for the Theatre Lover on Your List!

The Grinder Card is a perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, and for anyone who simply loves live theatre. It works just like a season ticket, but instead of being tied to a specific venue or series of shows it is tied only to the person holding the card. The $100 card is good for ten admissions to any Grinder show, in any venue, at any time.

You only come to the shows you want, when you want, where you want. Come alone and use one admission, or bring a date and use two, it’s up to you.

The Grinder Card. It’s fast, easy and it never expires. Available by phone at 519-780-7593 or via e-mail at grinder@grinderproductions.org.

Gift Certificates – Yes, we still do gift certificates! Available for a pair of tickets (or more) to a show, event or season these start as low as $30. Available by phone at 519-780-7593 or via e-mail at grinder@grinderproductions.org.

Scripts and Books – Grinder maintains an account at lulu.com, the online publishing service, where you can purchase digital and bound copies of the original plays we’ve produced at Grinder Productions over the years. Plays such as Home Farm, Muzzle Blast and All My Sins Remembered are available at very reasonable prices. Also available is Tech Theatre 101, a comprehensive guide to managing the technical side of theatre production – a valuable resource for anyone jumping into the whirlpool of producing, stage managing or production management. Visit www.lulu.com to see our store.

Acting Lessons – Starting in January, Eric will be pleased to offer one-on-one acting lessons to anyone who is interested, either on a “one-time” basis, or as part of a multi-week program. Lessons can be tailored to anyone ages 8 through adult, and students will have plenty of opportunities to tailor lessons to their particular needs, be it preparing an audition piece, building characters, voice, movement, scene study, or simply learning more about the craft of acting. All lessons will be $30 per hour, and will be held in the warmth and comfort of Eric’s new digs, with both daytime, afterschool and evening timeslots available. This is a perfect gift for an active youngster, a shy teen, or an adult or senior who “needs to get out more.” Call 519-780-7593 or e-mail grinder@grinderproductions.org to for more information or to book.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hans Brinker - Rehearsal Update

I'm starting off this week with the most important news of all - Hans Brinker is going great! The cast are getting their lines memorised, the technical apsects are finally starting to come together, and best of all, wait for it... tickets are starting to sell!

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have a show that makes lots of advance sales. Even when it's just orders waiting in the drawer it's a great boost to the confidence and enthusiasm of the cast and crew (not to mention yours truly) to know that there are people out there who've made a choice to take time out of their lives to come and see the show that we are working so, so hard on. Thank-you to everyone who has purchased their tickets already.

But if you haven't gotten the tickets yet, what are you waiting for!

Why put up with the rush at the box office at ten minutes to curtain, when you can phone in your order to the box office at any time (the phone number is 519-787-1981).

Walk-in hours at the Grand are 11:30 - 2:30 Monday to Friday, so if you work in town you can drop-in on your lunch hour and the box office staff at the theatre will be happy to process your order in person, and you can leave with tickets in hand.

Do you know someone in the cast? Then they can get the tickets for you! Each cast member has been given a ticket order sheet, on which you can fill in all the info we'll need to process your order. As long as you send in payment (by cash or check) we can take the order to the box office for you, process it, and then give the tickets to the cast member who placed the order at our next rehearsal, and they can then get the tickets to you.

So there's lots of ways to get to the show, but there's only thing that really matters - that you be there! This is a great family show, and one that will fit well with the holiday season. For us here at Grinder it also represents major step: the final show of what has been a rebuilding year in 2008, and the first show in our quest to return to long-term sustainability in 2009.

Please join us for this adventure that begins on the frozen canals of Holland.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Auditions Announcement - Preliminary Information

Audition Information

As promised, January will bring another round of Open Auditions for the company. The next newsletter will have more comprehensive information on times and places (we’re still trying to confirm availability), but nonetheless I would like to toss out the information to you here and now so that you can begin to think about taking the plunge with us in 2009.

These auditions are divided into several categories, based on age, past experience with Grinder Productions, and the sort of shows you are interested in auditioning for.

General Auditions – These are open to newcomers to Grinder Productions of any age who have not auditioned for us before, or worked with us on a show. We will audition in age-divided groups of about ten people at a time, and these will be “cold-read” auditions – ie you will be given a monologue or partnered with someone else for a short scene and asked to deliver it. We’ll also play some theatre games to break the ice, and maybe an improvisation or two, so don’t worry if you don’t read well – there’s plenty of chances to show us what you can do! You will be auditioning for shows in the Fergus, Elora, Ennotville and Belwood 2009 – 2010 seasons.

Members Auditions – If you have auditioned for us before, or have been in a show with us then you can skip the open auditions and head straight to the members’ auditions. Again, we’ll be doing cold reads but anyone who wishes to do so can also bring a prepared piece, or bring a friend and present a short prepared scene. You will be auditioning for shows in the Fergus, Elora, Ennotville and Belwood 2009 – 2010 seasons.

Hopeless Romantics Auditions – For those of you looking for a greater challenge we will also be auditioning actors for the Hopeless Romantics touring shows. Now this is semi-professional work, you will be paid a small honourarium for each performance, so we’re going to expect more effort than at a typical Grinder audition. Participants must be at least 16 years of age, and have ready a 1-to-2 minute prepared monologue, preferably comedic and contemporary in nature. Musical theatre actors will be given the chance to sing and/or dance, so please bring any audition music on CD.

For all auditions, it is paramount for us to know your availability. The more clearly we understand when you are available the better the chances of us being able to find a way to get you involved.

More information to follow January, but anyone with specific questions can call 519-780-7593 or e-mail grinder@grinderproductions.org.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sneak Peak 2009 #2

Winter 1-Acts

As many of you are likely aware, rehearsing in the wintertime presents a few challenges for us at Grinder. Without a year-round rehearsal facility it’s very difficult to put on large plays over the winter months. In response to that this January we’re going to put on several smaller “1-Act” plays that can be rehearsed in smaller locales and then brought together the week of the performance.

One-act plays are unique shows unto themselves, and are often a chance for new actors or directors to sharpen their skills. It is a chance to bring some rarely-performed works to the stage, ones that we normally couldn’t consider for production. Things are still early, so watch for more coming soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Poverty Anonymous - Here at Last!

I've had a just a few "issues" pulling this one together, but it is finally ready. It's changed quite a lot from what the format I originally set out to do - it's gone from a spiritual meeting to a Toni Robbins-type personal power tape: a one-act radio drama. What hasn't changed, though, is the substance of the piece. It's full of gentle satire and my very weird vocal characterisations, and will hopefully make us all a little more thankful for our relative financial good fortune, even in these difficult times. It runs this weekend at the Elora Centre for the Arts, admission is by donation, and the whole show should only last about 30 minutes, so it's a real "quickie." I hope to see you there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

December Newsletter - for real this time!

Here's the December newsletter. Don't worry, this is the real deal this time - we've fixed the bug in website that was causing you to get the page with last month's newsletter on it. This month's edition is chock-full of information about shows near and far - and some audition information as well, so make sure you check it out!