Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

Last post before the holidays - have a good one everybody, and I'll talk to you again next week! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick Update

Not much to report today - things are slowing down a bit for the holidays, I guess. A lot of stuff is coming down the pipe, though - we're getting ready to announce the 2010 season on January 1st, so I'm furiously working through what I need to do in order to get that ready. Watch for big things to be coming soon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cleaning up at the end of the year

Happy solstice to my pagan readers!

It's almost the end of the year - time to get a few things finished up. My posts this week will be brief, since many of you are already gone for the holidays, but also because I'm going to try my best to end 2009 the way I'd like to start (and stay) in 2010 - on track. I've got a lot of work to do!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Postings on Hiatus this week

I'm renovating the bathroom right now. More witticisms to report next week.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Long Winter

I don't think that I suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) yet it seems that with the onslaught of bitterly cold weather my personal outlook has taken a nosedive. The persistent cold certainly has a lot to do with it, as well as the inanities of actually trying to work outside in said cold. But I think more than that it's the realization that for me this is going to be another long, cold, isolating winter, one that I'll simply have to wait out before I can do a lot of the things I want to do with my life and Grinder Productions.

Or perhaps its more sinister then that. Perhaps, just perhaps, I'm feeling so poorly at the start of this long winter not because of what's to come but because of what's already transpired. It was a very long year for me, with a few ups and a lot of downs, including a few cheap shots below the belt. What hurts the most though are the things that go unspoken, and the people who stay away.

It's going to be a long winter, and I am going to do a lot of rebuilding - much work has been done already. But honestly, I think it's more than getting in from the cold that I'll have to do before I can enjoy the summer's warmth once again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Friday Send-off

I've tried to come up with some organic content to share with you this week, but I'm afraid that in the early morning fog I'm drawing a complete blank. Suffice it to say there is more and better material on the way - I'm writing at a furious pace in my more lucid moments. I want to take this blog higher in 2010 (and maybe actually start earning some revenue from it) and I know that it will start with creating a lot of witty, informative and entertaining content for you all to enjoy.

Here's to next week!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift Certificates and Grinder Cards

Just a quick reminder that we still have Gift Certificates and Grinder Cards on sale - they make the perfect last-minute Christmas gift or the gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. Call 519-780-7593 or e-mail and get yours today!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Performing the Role of Lighting Designer in a Theatrical Production

Another Helium article that's proving popular - just click on the title to go to the aricle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What it's like to be a stay-at-home writer

Since this is what I'll be doing most of the winter I decided to write an article about it for helium. Just click on the title of this post to read it - it seems to have struck a bit of a chord with the Helium audience.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Monday Morning After

Well folks, it looks like we've brought the curtain down on another season here at Grinder. With the final performance last Saturday night of Grinder and Friends we're now down until our open auditions in March. Congrats to everyone who was involved in this production for a fine performance.

Now what will I ever think of to write about tomorrow....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stand by, Mackenzie

This story will be published in 12 installments in the newsletter in 2010, as well as on the blog:

Mackenzie Kern is a skinny 18 year-old with a Grade 12 education, a bookkeeper mother and a lay preacher father. At the end of her last year of high school her best and only friend Bethany moves to the city with her boyfriend, leaving Mackenzie all alone in her whistle stop hometown of Sheridan's Falls.

Bored, broke and completely unsure of where to take her life next, Mackenzie gets a call from the Technical Director of the summer stock theatre troupe that has moved into the Lion's Hall for the summer. He's heard that Mackenzie helped out with the community theatre's production of The Grapes of Wrath last winter - would she like to come and be a part of the crew for a professional show?

Thinking she's just been given a job offer Mackenzie readily accepts, but soon realizes that she's just a volunteer, and that these "professionals" aren't nearly as adept at putting on plays as she thought they'd be.

But on the day before she plans to go to the TD and tell him she's outta there something happens that will make this one summer that Mackenzie will never forget....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Grinder and Friends Opens Tonight

Get your tickets at the door or here on the blog. So many people have worked so hard on this, so if you're looking for something to do this weekend we'd love to entertain you with this light-hearted family show.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Newsletter now available

Click on the title of this post to go to the December 2009 newsletter - chock-full of information about what we're up to this winter at Grinder

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Version of the website now uploaded

Refresh your browsers to see the latest version of Please let me know thoughts, feedback, etc - and if you like what you see there's even a place to buy me a coffee!

Click on the title of this post to go to the new version of the site.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Friday

It's Friday. I'm not very coherent by Fridays anymore - these 5:20am starts give my night owl brain a headache. So I'm trying to push things a little harder Monday to Thursday so that I can relax a little on Fridays, at least in the afternoon. I still won't be able to give up working completely - this is no mini-vacation - but if I play my cards right maybe I won't be caught trying to complete my hardest tasks on my weakest day.

With that, it's Friday, and I've got way too much work to do. See you on Monday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grinder and Friends

Grinder and Friends opens one week from today. Get your tickets by clicking on the "Buy Tickets: link in the sidebar.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ah, Creativity

One of the nice things about not having a lot of shows on the go right means that I have more time for focus on writing. Not as much as I'd like, of course, but for the first time in months I'm finally starting to feel like a writer again.

My process is improving. I've abandoned the keyboard and returned to pen and paper for the buil of my creative work (though I still type most non-fiction work directly). It may be difficult for some people who think I'm quite immersed in modern technology to believe that I write with a ball-point pen and paper, but for me it seems that it's only when I put pen to paper that brain and hand work in harmony.

I have to admit that my wrist is a little sore, as often happens when I've been away from writing for a while, and I'm flipping back and forth between messy printing and messy cursive writing. All the same it feels like I've come home as a writer, and that after much searching I've once again found the conduit for excorsising my litany of thoughts, notions, horrors, demons and days of reckoning.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New additions to the 2010 Summer Season at the Ennotville Library

I'm working on a few new opportunities to engage our members in 2010, to get more of the people who audition for us involved in more shows with us more often.

Next summer we'll be adding three new series of programs to our Ennotville Season. The first will be a series of Children's shows, ten one-act plays for young audiences, using our younger members whenever possible. These plays will run on Saturday mornings throughout the summer.

The second will also be an addition to our Saturday line-up with some short plays and musical entertainments, starting every day at noon. The lunch-time series will be a chance for our members to showcase some of their more specialized skills and talents.

Finally, for selected weekends only we'll be offering an "after hours" series, with shows starting at 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights. These shows will feature language and content we wouldn't normally be able to bring you in our mainstage shows.

So as you can see there's a lot that we have coming up. Preparations continue on what promises to be our most exciting season ever!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Fog

The thoughts are difficult this morning - I'm on my second cup and I'm still search of this week's posts.
I do have lots to tell you about the preparations for our upcoming season, but at this point in the process what needs to be done more interal than external, so there's only so much of interest that I can tell you right now.

I should (and perhaps I will) give you some links to my recent articles on Helium, as I've put up a lot of good stuff there recently. Click on the link in the sidebar to go to my About Me page on the site.

The Fergus Grand Theatre users collaborative meets again this week, so there could be some more good news on that front as well.

No shortage of things happening, yet my creative juices abandon me. I guess I'll just have to meddle on through as best I can - check in tomorrow to see how we do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I don't begrudge...

In case you haven't heard there's an awful lot of theatre going on in Centre Wellington at the moment. The Elora Community Theatre, The Main Street Players, Climing Vine Productions and the Not So Grand all have shows coming up this fall, and the Vision Theatre's annual Agatha Christie play is going into rehearsals.

And those are just the shows that I know about - there's probably a lot more.

And yes, Grinder is conspicuously absent from the party. Sadly this is a necessary part of our revival, a retreat to the Ennotville Library, by far our most forgiving, most reliable venue and audience. With the economic situation being what it was there was just no way we could have afforded the Grand this fall, or taken a chance on more shows beneath the dancing elephants at the Elora Centre for the Arts (as we lovingingly refer to the ballet classes full of four-year-olds that practice in the room above us during our rehearsals and shows).

But in a way we are there, at least in spirit. Much of the talent featured in these shows first hit the stage with Grinder. We introduced many of the movers and shakers at these companies to each other, and we planted more than a few seeds about the possibility of "making a go of it" and producing a show outside the mainstream established companies. We blazed a lot trails.

I got my invitation to the party on Facebook the other day, but I replied with just a "maybe." I don't begrudge anyone their success, but I don't know that this is a party Grinder Productions should be going to. Perhaps they've all moved on. Perhaps we've moved on. Perhaps it's not the party going on now that we should be worried about missing.

See some theatre at the Grand this fall, and support our local arts scene, and be sure to take some time to visit the Ennotville Library for Grinder and Friends. But if you miss these don't despair - the plans for the next round of parties are already well under way, and I can assure you of our attendance at those.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We've got Gift Certificates!

Give the gift of theatre this holiday season!

Once again Grinder Productions is pleased to offer Gift Certificates for sale from now until December 24th. Gift Certificates for a pair of tickets to any show in the Grinder season are just $24, a savings of $6 off of regular-priced tickets. Good for any show or any venue in the 2010 season.

And for the true theatre lover on your list why not get The Grinder Card? $100 will get eleven admissions to any show in any venue at any time – a savings of over $5 per person per show!

E-mail us at or call 519-780-7593 to place your order!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Talent Call

Do you have a band? A magic routine? Some trick-performing dogs perhaps?

I'm looking for people who are interested in showcasing their talents in a series of lunchtime shows on Saturdays this summer at the Ennotville Library. I'm hoping we can do some short plays in that space as well, but I'd also like to give our members a chance to show the world their unique abilities.

Have you been looking for the chance to let everyone know how talented you are? This could be the opportunity for you! E-mail me at and let's talk.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stand by, Mackenzie

This story will be published in 12 installments in the Grinder Productions newsletter in 2010, as well as here on the blog:

Mackenzie Kern is a skinny 18 year-old with a Grade 12 education, a book keeper mother and a lay preacher father. At the end of her last year of high school her best and only friend Bethany moves to the city with her boyfriend, leaving Mackenzie all alone in her whistlestop hometown of Sheridan's Falls.

Bored, broke and completely unsure of where to take her life next Mackenzie gets a call from the Technical Director of the summer stock theatre troupe that has moved into the Lion's Hall for the summer. He's heard that Mackenzie helped out with the community theatre's production of The Grapes of Wrath last winter - would she like to come and be a part of the crew for a professional show?

Thinking she's just been given a job offer Mackenzie readily accepts, but soon realizes that she's just a volunteer, and that these "professionals" aren't nearly as adept at putting on plays as she thought they'd be.

But on the day before she plans to go to the TD and tell him she's outta there something happens that will make this one summer that Mackenzie will never forget....

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Rebuilding Continues

Another Monday morning, another batch of unexpected optimism.

The world's greatest wife is heading out on a road trip this morning, so we actually got to sleep in a little bit. She's gone overnight Wednesday-Thursday so I don't know what I'll do to fill in the hours then, but for now it's actually light out while I'm writing this, so I guess that's helping me get this week off to a good start.

Lots planned for this week, including a major component for the 2010 newsletter (more on that tomorrow) and the first step in a comprehensive clean-up and re-organization of the rehearsal hall. I also hope to make major strides in my writing this week, and finally get back up to where I'd like to be at Helium.

But my biggest goal this week will be fleshing out the 2010 season. Once thought to be largely complete a number of new opportunities have recently come to mind that have me searching for suitable programming once again. These new opportunities have come about through revelation, not outside factors, so it's important that I sit on these ideas for a time until I'm sure I'm not just thinking crazy (as people would argue I've been known to do).

So yes, we're rebuilding. Rebuilding the structure of a company, rebuilding the way we do things and rebuilding the way we see ourselves.

Construction continues... put on your hard hats.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grinder and Friends

Grinder and Friends at the Ennotville Library

Grinder Productions is pleased to present Grinder and Friends, a holiday variety show for the whole family December 3rd, 4th and 5th at the Ennotville Library.

After a long spring, summer and fall Grinder Productions will close its 2009 season with a show filled with music, laughter and plenty of Christmas cheer.

“I’ve wanted to do a show like this for a long time,” says Eric Goudie, Grinder Productions Creative and Executive Director. “Variety shows are a lot of fun, both for the actors and the audience, because you never know what’s going to happen next.”

The show consists of about a dozen members of the company performing in a variety of acts, including singing, dancing and story-telling. Two short plays will also be on the bill – August Strindberg’s “The Stronger” and an adaptation of O. Henry’s classic Christmas story “The Gifts of the Magi.” Rumour has it that there will even be an appearance by a jolly old fat man in a red suit!

The company will also be selling Gift Certificates at the show (and right up to December 24th) for performances in its 2010 season. Gift Certificates for a pair of tickets to any show in the Grinder season are just $24, a savings of $6 off of regular-priced tickets.

The show runs December 3rd, 4th and 5th at 8pm at the Ennotville Library, with an additional 2pm Saturday matinee. Call 519-780-7593 for tickets or purchase them online at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Directors Wanted

Do you have what it takes to be a director? Have you directed other shows with other companies in the past and are looking for a new challenge? Do you want a unique opportunity to be a part of something amazing and help take Grinder Productions to new heights?
If so, I want to hear from you. E-mail and let's talk about you directing a play for us in the 2010 season.

So now I'm on a health kick

The world's greatest wife and I went swimming the past Sunday. I'm walking for about 90 minutes every weekday morning now. Lunch has become what used to pass for a 9pm snack and our suppers are looking more and more like culinary homages to portion control. Somehow, I'm on a health kick.
It's not at the prodding of the world's greatest wife, oddly enough - she's from the fill-em-up-until-they-explode school of farm-table cuisine, so while she eats very sensibly herself she does sometimes worry that my plate isn't exactly heaping (or that when it is, I can't clean it).
Sadly, as per every other health kick I've ever been on, this improved diet and exercise is having a negligible impact on both physique and energy levels - no "Biggest Loser" dramatic results for me. My only hope is that these incremental changes will, over time, make a quantifiable difference.
Pass the soy burgers (not! - I'm going healthy, not crazy).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

On a Monday

Another week begins and with it comes a flurry (0f new activity, that is). Here at the homestead we're busy getting ready for winter: putting up the bird feeder, putting away the lawn furniture and roto-tilling the garden one last time. the world's greatest wife tells me her citified co-workers marvel at her stories of country living - driving over snow-covered roads and feeding the chickens and other mundane minutiae that she and I take for granted.
On the Grinder front two important projects are under way. The first one, obviously, is Grinder and Frinds, out holiday variety show. Rehearsals for the short play "The Gifts of the Magi" that will be a key part of the show are now going on, and this week much of the promotional aspects of the show will begin in earnest.
The other big thing I'm working on are the preparations for our 2010 season. I' ve pretty much got the summer shows picked out and now I'm solidifying our plans for the fall, when I home we'll be able to continue doing shows in multiple venues. I've decided to include more original plays in our programming from now on, so I'm also spending a lot o more time writing the material that you'll see on stage next summer.
Se here we go again for another week of more-or-less controlled chaos. With any luck it's going to be a good one.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Follow me on Twitter

Yes, you too can be one of my tweeps!

You can find me under the handle grinderpro


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Whole Lotto Helium

Here's a ton of links to my Helium Articles on Theatre - there's something here for everyone - enjoy!

Articles on Acting:

How to Create an Acting Resume

Steps to Success in Acting

How to Become a Broadway Actor

Is show business in your child’s future?

Are Great Actors born Talented?

Articles on Shakespeare:

How to Study Shakespeare

The Importance of Excellent Diction when Performing Shakespeare

Designing Sets for Shakespeare’s Productions

Sexuality in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

The Performance History of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Effects of Shortening the plays of Shakespeare

Theatre in Shakespeare’s Time

Articles on Community/School Theatre:

Theatre: Supporting your local arts scene

Getting Involved in Community Theatre

Why Theatres should join Community Organizations

Key ways for teachers to Direct successful plays

Why it is Important to Introduce Children to Live Theatre

Articles on Theatrical History, Literature and Criticism:

Exploring Medieval Drama

The Best Elizabethan Plays and Playwrights

An Overview of the major characters in A Streetcar Named Desire

Theatre in the 1990’s

Commentary: What do Theatre Critics Actually Do?

Environmental Theatre

Post-modern Theatre

Thoughts on the Proscenium Theatre

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Grinder and Friends is here!

Click on the title of this post and get your tickets now!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fresh Starts

I'm on a brand-new internet connection this morning!

Thanks to the world's greatest wife needing a telecommuting option for the snowy days in the winter I'm working this morning on a new something-or-other stick that's much, much faster than dial-up. I have to be careful now not to go over our montly data amounts (or else it starts costing us more money) but the freedom to work anywhere (no phone line to hook up) and the luxury of actually being able to do things online without waiting all day has put me in a pretty good mood (oh yeah, and the extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning didn't hurt either).

Newsletter will be out tomorrow, for those of you who may be wondering. This week I'm also working on updating the website - going to take another stab at the photo gallery (again, much easier without the dial-up) so if there's anyone out there who's got some pictures from a past Grinder Productions show and doesn't mind sharing them I would love to include them this time around - though I expect the gallery will be a perpetual work-in-progress, and we just don't have pictures available from every single show we've ever done.

I've got a busy week coming up, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. We're in a rebuilding phase here at Grinder, and I think that if I stay smart about it this week could go a long way towards making our future success a reality.

Here's to a fresh start on a Monday morning.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

No post today - Happy Halloween!

And get ready for the bombardment around Christmas to get underway as of November 1st, with "Grinder and Friends" being front and centre.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Building a Season

I've been working on building the summer 2010 season over the past few weeks. Every time I think I've got it figured out I walk away from it and then come back to it and change my mind about something. I know that sooner or later I'll have to commit, but right now there's a lot of indecision.

And there's plenty to be indecisive about. Last summer was (almost) a total disaster, with only the shows in Belwood amounting to anything approaching what I needed them to be (in terms of bums in seats - creatively it's a whole other ball game, one that sadly has little do to with play selection).

It's absolutely essential that we avoid what happened in 2009. I've spent a lot of time analysing the causes of our collapse, both internal and external, and my preparations this year have been couched in making sure that as many of the factors that caused last year's failures do not happen again.

I think I've got those specific problems taken care of, but as anyone who works in the business knows it's quite often the things you don't think of that wind up causing you the most grief. How can you foresee the unforeseen?

Well you can't, obviously, but you can prepare for it. I know there will be challenges next year that I can't predict, but I'm putting in place the safeguards now to ensure that we have some way of dealing with them.

I can't tell you too much about what shows we'll be doing in 2010 just yet, but I can tell you that we're already going into that season with more and better preparation than when we went into the last one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tickets now on Sale

Just a quick note to let you know that tickets are now on sale for "Grinder and Friends" our Christmas show at the Ennotville Library. Click on the "Buy Tickets" link in the sidebar to go to our site at and get your tickets today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Looking for Resources

If you've been to see the new and improved (and I know you all have) you may have noticed the new "Actor's Link" that takes you to a page called "The Actor's Toolbox," a place where you'll find all sorts of information on being an actor, both theoretical and practical.

I see The Actor's Toolbox as it stands right now as a first step, a rough draft. I'd like to add more information to it as time goes by, as well as adding other Toolboxes for Directors, Stage Managers, Designers, Technicians, Publicity People, etc - something for everyone who gets involved in the business of live theatre, amateur, professional or anywhere in between.

Do you have a resource you'd like to share? A good website, blog or directory? I'm looking for quality information of a general nature, things that would be of value to all of us working in the business. I'm starting with acting, but I'd welcome anything else for consideration on future pages.

Any help would be appreciated. Links in the comment section, or send an e-mail to


Monday, October 26, 2009

Finding the Spark

Creativity is a fickle thing.

If you're a regular reader here you may have noticed that it's been a while since I trumpeted my articles on Helium. It's been about a month since I put up much material of substance on the site, and after the hectic pace of things since the end of the summer season I haven't had as much time to write as I would have liked.

I THINK that's all changed now, though I've said the same thing before. It seems that life is finally slowing down to break-neck speed (as opposed to super-sonic) and maybe, just maybe I'm starting to get ahead of a few things.

Over the past few weeks I've finally gotten to a few nagging jobs around the homestead here, as well as some projects in the shop that I haven't had time to work on since the spring. Last week at the company I put up a major revision of the website (go to and check it out!) and the "Production Workbook" project is once again underway after months of delays.

I want to use this time to build momentum. I see myself and Grinder in a rebuilding phase right now, and I want to make sure that when we re-emerge in the spring we not only re-emerge stronger, but with more staying power, so that we don't need these "down times" that go on for months to recover from bad shows or get ready for upcoming seasons.

So hopefully I'll be writing more and more and more in the coming days and weeks. Next season's projects will be taking up a lot of my time, as will Hopeless Romantics (yes, that's coming back too), and Helium is about to be hit by a full-force gale of articles and other site-related work.

The spark has been lit.

Friday, October 23, 2009

At the end of a long week...

It's finally Friday.

The first week "back to normal" has proved, as usual, to be exhausting. With the world's greatest wife still leaving for work so early (and it looks like once winter hits she'll have to leave earlier than ever before) it seems my usual day-by-day pattern of becoming increasinly less able to function as the week goes by is still intact.

So I'm not likely to come up with much brilliance on Fridays. In fact I should consider myself lucky that I can post at all, as this is usually when, as it is this morning, that a good old-fashioned headache comes to ruin my day.

Here's to the Advil, I guess.

So what of Grinder this past week? Quite a lot, actually, though pitifullly little of it had much to do with our next show. Yes, I did get a little work in on Grinder and Friends, but the bulk of my time this week has been spent on the website, in the shop, and on a "Production Workbook" I'm creating for future directors.

In the more lucid moments of this week I did have some time to think, about me and about the company and how everything all fits together - a perspective-gathering week if you will.

Here's hoping for more perspective when my mind returns to normal next Monday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Version of Website

Check out the new and improved I'm still working on some portions of the site (past productions, photo gallery the Grinder Store have not been updated yet) but I've given the rest of the site a sleek new make-over that I hope everyone will enjoy. I've also added a couple of new pages, one for Hopeless Romantics, and an "Actor's Toolbox" - a collection of resources to help actors learn lines, build characters, etc, as well as a starting point to learn more about the various schools of acting that are out there.

Please take a moment and click here to check it out, and send me your thoughts and opinions!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Working on the Website

In another couple of days I'll be publishing an updated version of I'm giving the entire site a clean-up and make-over, so that it's easier to read, better optimized for SEO value and quicker to update, in addition to a sleeker, more contemporary look, one that actuallly hearkens back to an earlier design and improves upon it.

The biggest thing you'll notice about the re-vamped site will be the "actors" page, where I'm compiling resources for actors at Grinder Productions and anywhere else. In addition to information about the various schools of acting that are out there there's also lots of information about the basics: how to learn lines, what you should do in rehearsal, etc.

I hope to build on the actors page in future editions of the website, so if anyone has any good resources that for actors that they wouldn't mind sharing please send them along and I'll include them in a future update!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Introducing Grinder and Friends

The final show in the 2009 season at the Ennotville Library is Grinder and Friends, our family Christmas Variety show.

This is a chance for people of all ages to come out and be entertained with a show that's a mixture of music, dance, drama, laughter and old-fashioned fun.

At this time some of the highlights include:
  • A one-act play, The Gifts of the Magi, based on O. Henry's famous tale of Christmas giving
  • Christmas carols from some of Grinder's most talented vocalists, including, for selected performances only, Elvis impersonator Peter Schofield
  • The world's greatest wife has also promised to perform a reading of her award-winning short story "The Santa Suit"
  • And much, much more!
And we've still got room for a few more acts - please let me know if you'd like to join us for this event and we'll be sure to squeeze you in!

Grinder and Friends runs December 3rd, 4th and 5th at 8pm, December 5th at 2pm at the Ennotville Library. Call 519-780-7593 for tickets.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Sweet Hereafter (apologies to Atom Egoyan)

It's Monday.

A big thank-you to everyone who's helped us out in the past two weeks with both Philemon and Baucis (aka By Jove) and Marriage is Murder. It's been a long and at times difficult two weeks, but I'm now happy to report that both shows are in the bag and Grinder Productions is back to doing what it does best - entertaining people.

I have to admit, over the past few months I've been going through a bit of an identity crisis. I've been struck by just how much of who I am is wrapped up in what I do, and after the way the summer season came to an end I was beginning to openly wonder if I was still even able to do what I do (and I wasn't the only one - I think the knives were out for me in a few places).

I think I have a better idea now what laid-off factory workers and the well-paid middle-managers who've been let go in this economy are going through. It's made me realize just how much I am defined by what I do, but also just how much I do love to do it. Of course it's not all wonderful, and there were a lot of times in the last few weeks when I just wanted to throw up my arms and give up, but beyond the temporary challenges and minutiae of particular shows I see a bigger, brighter future ahead once again.

So, onwards and upwards. Today I begin working on Grinder and Friends, the Christmas show. It's going to present some unique challenges, but I'm now confident once more that here at Grinder we have the people, the resources and the ingenuity to face whatever challenges we may face head-on, and come through them more successful than we've ever been before.

Welcome to the sweet hereafter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Codifying Success

I guess one of the hotter topics amongst the online content community these days is coming up with a working definition of success.

On the surface it seems easy enough - success defines itself, you're either successful or you're not. But for bloggers, writers, and other people who live in an online world success seems much harder to define. It also seems to be much more elusive than for people of the "bricks and mortar set," something more like the Quest for the Holy Grail rather than The Hudsucker Proxy (for all you fans of mediocre movies from the 80's).

I guess we all see success in a different, personal, ultimately selfish way. Honestly, how many of us define our personal success as the eradication of war, poverty, disease and general human misery? Is the creation of a world without AIDS a marker of success for anyone who doesn't have AIDS or wasn't directly involved in the research required to make it happen? Conversely, how many of us see the death of a child from a preventable cause somewhere in the world at a rate of one every three seconds as a personal failure?

Assuming we can sleep at night without having solved all the world's problems (and the vast majority of us unfortunately can) is it possible to seek success in a manner that brings us personal gratification and fulfills our obligation to the preservation/betterment of the planet and the human race?

Can we do like Carnegie and repay a lifetime of success at any cost with unbridled philanthropy and the use our success to provide the foundations upon which others may succeed in the future?

Or can we, as one of the world's greatest wife's friends says, be successful simply by having a stable, steady income that earns enough to keep a roof overhead, food on the table, the bills paid and a little something saved for a rainy day?

I'm not sure there is an easy answer to all of this. Perhaps it lies not in the achievement of success, but in the pursuit of it. After all, there is no pre-determined point at which everyone will agree "You are a success." Even Bill Gates, the world's richest man, is a failure in the eyes of some (just Google "spawn of satan" and you'll see what I mean), so there really is no empirical benchmark we can look to and say "When I am there, I am a success."

So I'll keep looking to the journey, not the destination, for guidance. Yes, I still have goals (as anyone who's seen my refridgerator door will attest to), but I've been trying for some time now to pay more attention to how I'm reaching those goals, not just the goals themselves.

We open another show here tonight at Grinder. Another goal has been reached, another play crossed off the "to do" list of plays I must do before I die. But is it a success? I could ask at the box office, but I think instead I'll wait until it is all over, and I have in my hands both the house counts and a comprehensive picture of the entire process, from finding out about the show to putting the last set piece back in the barn.

That's when we'll see what our "success" decides to look like.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tech Week

There's a reason why they call it "Hell Week."

And actually, "week" is a bit of a misnomer - back when I started doing this we actually had the better part of a week from the time we brought the show into the theatre to the time we actually saw our first audience. Later on it dropped down to a three days of madness followed by a few previews - an extended tech week but one that by definition had to come to an end by that Thursday night opening.

Now, thanks to the ever-decreasing value of a dollar it seems like such a luxury to give ourselves a whole 48 hours to go from load-in to lights up.

And another thing that's changed about tech week since I started doing this - it seems like there's a lot fewer people around. Used to be that it was an "all hands on deck" call for a load-in, and you pulled in the cast, crew and all the extra bodies that you could. Yesterday it was just me slugging in the flats and risers, as it is the vast majority of the time nowadays.

As you might expect, this morning I'm pretty stiff and sore, and I think I may even have done some damage to my back, I'm not sure - we'll find out when I have to take the entire set down and out again on Saturday night. But despite my discomfort I'm not feeling all that unhappy about how things are going. After all, the set is in, it's up, and while there are a few little notes left to do it's nowhere near as far from finished as some of the shows I used to work on - there will be no all-night calls to get this one ready.

You have to be a bit philosophical about tech week - that's how you get through it.

I do hope, though, that my efforts will be worth it - please come to the show!

Call for tickets, 519-780-7593.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's arrived!

Marriage is Murder Opens this Week!

Jules and I are thrilled to invite you to our play. Click here to buy your tickets online, call to reserve at 519-780-7593 or get them at the door. Please join us for this unforgettable event!

Eric and Jules

Friday, October 9, 2009

Grinder Girl Makes it to the Big Time?

Congrats to Grinder life member Sandy Lai, who's landed a role in an upcoming web-based comedy series. Sandy appeared in the very first play we ever produced here at Grinder Productions, and I've always been impressed with her work. If I had high-speed you can bet I'd be tuning in every week, but at least I was able to see the trailer:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Week Rolls On

It's been another long week here at Grinder, but rather than simply waste your time ranting and complaining about my sore legs and groggy mind I thought it would be a bit more productive to try and write something of value to both you and me. So here goes...
  1. Does anyone out there know much about Acai? I've got the opportunity to write an article entitled "The Truth About Acai" and the publisher is looking for both the medically proven facts about Acai and the internet myths and scams that have been propagated about it. I'm looking for anyone who might have stories or info, good or bad, and if you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about and have never heard of Acai don't worry - I'll post the link to the article here as soon as it's written.
  2. Acting Tools. I'm putting together a new page for the website entitled "Acting Tools." I'm hoping to include relevant information on auditioning, voice and movement work and character development. Does anyone out there know of any good resources that we might want to link to?
  3. Grinder and Friends. The preparations for the Grinder Christmas show at the Ennotville Library are well underway! We're still looking for a couple more people, ideally another woman to sing a couple of songs, and a younger male for an acting role, but anyone who's interested we'd love to have on board doing something, so just e-mail me and I'll get you on board today.
There, now wasn't that productive?

See you tomorrow, when perhaps I'll have a little more coherence.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Long Day's Journey

Well, I'm here.

Usually the morning after a show closes I'm not feeling quite this tired. Well, maybe I do, but since shows generally close on a Saturday and I'm usually not moving too early Sunday morning anyways I just don't feel it as much. I'm certainly feeling it today though.

We got through By Jove last night without any major hiccups, thanks in no small part to the dedicated efforts of cast and crew. Thank-you everyone for all your hard work!

This morning though has brought a lot of stiff and sore muscles and I feel almost as drained as I did last night. I guess this show took more out of me than I realized.

But now on to the next one - Marriage is Murder. You are all going to be there, right? Right?

Tickets are available on the website. Speaking of the website, if you haven't visited in a while you might now notice that I've made a few small tweaks to a couple of pages. I'm in the process of doing a complete site overhaul, and I'd be happy to hear any thoughts and suggestions you might have about how we could improve the look, feel and functionality of the site.

Visit and then let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Show Tonight!

Come on out and support Grinder members Morgan Dunbar, Sue Kennedy, Colin Johnson and Hayden Tallon in "By Jove," playing this evening at the Elora Centre for the Arts as part of Sensational Elora. The show begins at 5pm and will feature a light lunch based on the themes of the play, so bring the whole family out for this one-show-only event!

Click here for tickets and more information.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Call for Artistic Associates

Calling all directors and wanabe directors out there!

Grinder Productions is looking to expand its pool of artistic associates - people who are ready, willing and able to take on high-level creative projects for the company. If you are interested in:
  • Becoming a producer for a Grinder Productions show, season or venue
  • Directing a play
  • Working as an assistant Director on a play
  • Working on a play as a Choreographer, Musical Director, Fight Captain or other creative specialist
... then I want to hear from you!

Directing a play (or doing any of these jobs) requires more time, effort and commitment than most of the other things we normally ask of our members here at Grinder, so obviously they're not for everyone. But for a special few, it can be the most rewarding thing they've ever done.

I can't direct every play we do, so I need more artistic talent for our 2010 season. If you've directed with us before and would like to do so again just let me know and I'll find you an appropriate project. If you've directed before with other companies let's get together over coffee and see if we can find some common creative ground.

And if you've never directed before but are interested in learning, let me know and we'll meet to see if you've got what it takes to embark on the process of learning this most rewarding (but oftentimes trying) of crafts.

E-mail or call 519-780-7593.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The world's first orbiting theatre

Yes, theatre has finally made it to outer space. And a Canadian was the first to do it, no less.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Coldest Morning Yet

It's cold here at castle Grinder this morning - getting out of bed wasn't a lot of fun, and while I think the furnace is good to go the world's greatest wife and I are holding out as long as we can for fear of the exhorbitant cost of heating oil (though I actually think the price is quite reasonable at the moment, so we should probably place our order soon before it goes up any further).

So here I sit, cold and alone (even the cats have left for the morning), finally able to digest some of what I have been through in the last few days.

The last week or so of my life has been lived in more or less of a daze. I can't go into the specific details of what has occurred, except to say that a number of people have done a number of things of their own accords (and not in concert with each other) that when taken together served to push me over the edge.

I snapped.

I lost control of my feelings, shed the usual stoic optimism that I've found to be essential for surviving in this business and just went straight over the edge. It wasn't a fit of violent rage (though I was gripped with the overwhelming urge to drive my fist through a few pieces of scenery) but rather a desperate, futile grasping at the pieces of a carefully constructed life and work as they fell through my fingers.

There was no quick release. No catharsis. No epiphany. Just frantic flailing, then futile pursuit, then utter despair.

I'd better clarify as best I can. Basically, in the past few months I've arrived at a point in my life where there finally seems to be less darkness and more light. As the world's greatest wife is always telling me, "we're very blessed." And we are. I am. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, the love and support of family and friends, and her.

I have so much to be thankful for. So much that's going right. In fact, for quite some time I've come to realize that my life is pretty much perfect, save for one thing - my profession.

Despite achieving great success in my personal life my professional life has been lurching from one failure to another for quite some time. I'm not talking about end products here - the shows I've done and the things I've written have been both good and bad, and in that respect it's not even my place to really decide what's good and bad - that's up to the audience and the readers.

Where I have failed, and where I continue to consistently fail is on the process. Despite years of training, study and reflection I am unable to get things done, done right and done on time, for lack of a less blunt way to put things. While the results of this on stage and in print are for someone else to judge, the resulting balance in my bank account is my business, and business has been consistently disappointing.

I can't even keep this blog updated consistently. If I did, every weekday there would be a fresh posting waiting for you. But some weeks I don't get those posts written, and some weeks I don't get them posted on time, and some weeks I post things that I've already posted without realizing it.

This is just one example of an endemic problem that pollutes everything I say and do.

So what's to be done? Give it all up and work at Tim Hortons? There are people out there who would desperately wish for that to be so. There are so many who seem to crave the day that I "admit defeat" and "get a real job" as if what I do makes me something of a ne'er-do-well or free-loader, people who gush with hollow praise and ill-considered advice but secretly fear that if I ever do "realize my dreams" then it will invalidate their own failed attempts at professional fulfillment.

Well I'm not going to give up. I'm not going to give in, and I'm not going to forget that what I do is just as worthy of respect as the work of any auto mechanic, machinist or brain surgeon.

What I am going to do is step back from the precipice a little, to make sure that I don't go over the edge once again. Next time the world's greatest wife may not be there to catch me and keep me from falling.

I'm going to take this winter to re-brand myself. There will be no shows between December 09 (after the Christmas show) and the start of the summer season in June 2010. Between now and then I won't build a new company (as I think the company is doing just fine) - I will build a new me.

Here's hoping that by the time the cold mornings are behind us once again I will finally be freed from the shackles of my past mistakes and able to enjoy all that a beautiful life has to offer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Waiting

Sorry to keep leaving little teasers like this.

The car broke down, and I've been all day fixing it. Between that and driving all over the place trying to get wives and actors where they need to be there hasn't been much time for me to collect my thoughts.

Tomorrow, with any luck...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stormy Weather

I'm writing this in the middle of an electrical storm, and I don't really think I should be online at all right now, so just a quick note to let everyone know that I'm still here, alive and kicking before I shut down the computer. Once the storm outside my door and the storm inside my head clears there's going to be one mother of a rant coming in the next day or two. A few things have happened in the past few days that need some sorting out....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Freaky Friday Funk

Well it looks like we've made it through another week.

Unlike many of my previous posts, this one is in real-time, at 7:08 am on a Friday after a long, hard, exhausting week. This week was filled with much the same things as every other: insomnia, intermittent illnesses and more highs and lows than a lithium factory. Sometimes I think I'm living in the twilight zone.

But through the usual fog this week has also come something a bit different, I think. Something that says to my "wait a minute. Something has changed."

I finally rid my to-do list of the backlog of work that had been piling up since the wedding. Yes, there are still things to do, but for the first time it doesn't seem insurmountable. It looks as if it actually is possible to get through the day, do what needs getting done, and not fall asleep worried sick about everything that didn't get done. It's possible, just possible, that I might be getting caught up once again, or maybe for the first time ever.

Some of the monkeys are starting to get off my back, and I do confess to feeling a little bit better about myself and the state of my affairs in the past few days. I don't know how long this will last. I don't even know if this is real or not - it could be just a phase that I'm going through and I'll be back to my depressive old self by the middle of next week. But I have a hunch that if I'm smart about it and play my cards right there's a chance this could be a new reality for me, a way to finally reconcile the new-found joys of my personal life with the enduring trials of my professional life.

Here's hoping during a freaky Friday funk.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Helium Links

Here's a few of my latest articles on Helium - please check them out!

How to use your blog to keep customers informed

Recovering from a business failure
The Negative Side of Blogging

As you can imagine, these are topics that I've had a little experience with over the years...

Would you like to write for Helium? If so, just send me an e-mail at and I'll invite you through the site's "Invite a Writer" feature.

And as always, you can check out my all my articles and my newly-revised bio on my "About Me" page, available here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Husband-and-Wife Hatchet Job coming to the Ennotville Library Stage

It’s going to get a little intriguing in Ennotville this October.

Grinder Productions is pleased to present Marriage is Murder, a mystery-comedy by Nick Hall as the first show of the fall and winter season at the Ennotville Library.

This murderously funny comedy is about ex-spouses Paul and Polly Butler, two murder mystery writers that penned a few bestsellers when they were married, but have failed to make much use of their talents on their own. The secret to their success (and perhaps their marriage) was that they tested out the murders in their books… on each other!

This play is filled with comic twists and turns right up to the very end. It is part murder-mystery, part farce and part reality, with both characters walking an extremely fine line between “acting” their murderous ideas and actually carrying them out.

Starring in this show are Eric and Julie Goudie, in their first show together as husband and wife. While they may not share Paul and Polly’s animosity towards each other just yet both actors can sympathise with their character’s plights:

“Yes, she does have a lot of little sayings that I find annoying sometimes,” says Eric.
“Christmas to Murgatroyd, I do not!” retorts Julie.

The show runs October 15th, 16th and 17th at 8pm at the Ennotville Library, with an additional 2pm Saturday matinee. Call 519-780-7593 for tickets or online at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Family Friendly Sensational Elora

October 3-12

Sensational Elora is chock full of events that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Here is a small sample.


If you’ve seen the Amazing Race on television, you have some idea about the challenges set out for teams. Not as onerous as the televised version but just challenging enough, ours will be much more family-friendly and loads of fun. Each challenge will test your team’s mettle in exploring one of the senses. Points will be awarded for each challenge and the Grand Prize Winner will be the team with the most points.
Teams are made up of four people with the minimum age set at twelve. Each team must contain at least one adult.
To enter the Sensational Race, please visit our web site at and check us out under “Contests”
Date: Sunday, October 4th
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: Start at 1:00 PM sharp at the Gerrie Road entrance to the Elora-Cataract Trailway.
Entry Fee: $10 per team

Grinder Productions Presents...

By Jove is one version of an ancient legend about the rewards of sharing.The great god Jove, having given the people wealth, plenty and fruitful crops, decides to test their generosity. Disguised as beggars, he and his son, Hermes, wander the land seeking comfort but find none. Except at one home where you can share in the meal they are served. This interactive play is a perfect event for families.
Date: Tuesday, October 6th
Time: 5:00 PM
Location: Elora Centre for the Arts
Tickets: $15 Adult, $5 Child


This free event, open to all ages, began in May where seeds were distributed.
Now it’s time to lug those huge pumpkins to the Elora Farmers’ Market for judging. Prizes will be awarded in various categories. And as a very special treat for one and all, there will be live music provided by the very family-friendly Funky Mamas.
Date: Saturday, October 10th
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: The Elora Farmers’ Market


A full day of films to entertain and inform our young people. Not to be missed.
Date: Saturday, October 10th

9:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.
Location: Fergus Grand Theatre
Tickets: $5.00 each film or $20.00 for the day (lunch priced separately)
Film Schedule:
9:00 AM "WINKY’S HORSE" (Holland, 2005, 90 mins.)
A young Chinese girl struggles to adapt to life in the Netherlands. The love of her neighbour’s horse and a request to Santa Claus round out the tale.
Subtitles will be read aloud. Suitable for ages 5 and up.
11:00 AM "PAULA’S SECRET" (Germany, 2008, 95 mins.)
Paula, an eleven-year-old daydreamer, comes upon a real adventure in which she must outfox adult criminals.
English Subtitles. Suitable for ages 10 and up.
12:45 PM —1:45 PM LUNCH
Will be created and served by Chef Chris Jess and the kids of FoodSchool.
1:45 PM "DUNYA & DESIE" (Holland, 2007, 94 mins.).
Teenage best friends from very different back grounds run away to Morocco, when they find themselves in crisis.
Suitable for ages 15 and up.
3:30 PM Film Shorts (Various) -
Short films, including some by local filmmakers and hard to find award-winning shorts
Featuring "The Record Club" with the premier their music video "Norma Jean" created by the Youth Arts and Entertainment Council from the Elora Centre for the Arts during the summer Youth Video Boot Camp.
Suitable for all ages.

For more information and to purchase tickets for Sensational Elora Events please visit our web site at

Call our office at: 519-846-5638 (Toll Free: 877-754-5638)

Visit us at: 9 Mill Street East, Elora, N0B 1S0

Sensational Race

Sensational Elora —
Festival of the Senses Tickets On Sale Now!

Pumpkin Contst

In addition to the above not-to-be-missed events, Sensational Elora is delighted to present

Live Raku Firings
at The Elora Pottery,

a Curly Horse Adventure

Hiking the Trailway

and, not to be overlooked, The Sensational Soup Off.


Sensational Elora, A Festival of the Senses. October 3rd to the 12th
Box 911, Elora ON, N0B 1S0,

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Sensational Elora
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

By Jove!

This charming little play, based on an ancient legend from Greek mythology, is all about the rewards of sharing. Jove, the king of the gods, having given the people wealth, plenty and fruitful crops decided to test their generosity. Disguised as beggars, he and his son Hermes wandered the land, seeking comfort but finding none, until the arrived at the humble cottage of Philemon and Baucis.

This show will take place on Tuesday, October 6th at the Elora Centre for the Arts as part of the Sensational Elora Festival. The show will accompanied by a meal of soup, bread, cheese, fruit, etc, similar to the humble-yet-gracious fare Philemon and Baucis serve to their guests.

This show is the perfect family outing, filled with humour, a little bit of ancient history, and a timeless lesson about remembering those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Tickets are $15 for adults and just $5 for kids. The show is being sponsored by Collins Barrow, and tickets are available through the Sensational Elora box office, either by phone at 519-846-5638 or online at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Actors Needed

For Grinder and Friends, our Christmas show December 3rd, 4th and 5th at the Ennotville Library.

Bring your talents and we'll work you in!

Call 519-780-7593 or e-mail if you are interested in being a part of this event.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I went in to the Parks and Recreation Office the other day to request our dates for the 2010 season at the Belwood Hall. It's imperative that I get those bookings in well in advance so that we get the dates we want - even one year out there's still no guarantees that we'll get the dates we want.

Yes, we will be back at the Belwood Hall in 2010. We'll also be at the Ennotville Library, with both a summer and a winter season to boot. We'll be back the Elora Centre for the Arts on October 6th for "By Jove!" a one-act dinner theatre show we'll be doing in conjunction with the Sensational Elora Festival, and I hope to book some more dates at the Centre for shows next year. With any luck we'll even be able to bring a show back to the Fergus Grand Theatre in 2010 (though I'm not ready to commit firmly to that just yet).

It's true that Grinder has taken quite a few body blows over the last few months. We've weathered the worst of the economic downturn (or so the pundits would have us believe) and while the company isn't in great shape we aren't facing oblivion either, thanks to some cost-saving measures we implemented when things began to go downhill.

I see 2010 as a year of renewal at Grinder Productions. I'm working on some new procedures, planning for our open auditions in January to bring in some new blood, and forging new partnerships to bring even more opportunities to our members, patrons and friends.

Here's to a bright future in 2010!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Theatrical Logic

Stole this off of a Facebook Profile. It's old hat to me, but nice to know The Technician's Bible is still being taught in post-secondary institutions the world over:

Theatrical Logic:
In is down, down is front
Out is up, up is back
Off is out, on is in
And of course-
Left is right and right is left
A drop shouldn't and a
Block and fall does neither
A prop doesn't and
A cove has no water
Tripping is OK
A running crew rarely gets anywhere
A purchase line buys you nothing
A trap will not catch anything
A gridiron has nothing to do with football
Strike is work (in fact A LOT of work)
A a green room, thank god, usually isn't
Now that you're fully versed in Theatrical terms,
Break a leg.
But not really.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pass the tissues

It's been a rough few days here at Grinder. The world's greatest wife has been off sick all week, and she's not exactly a model patient, so I've spent a great deal of time looking after her and not nearly enough time looking after the company, let alone the blog.

And now that she's just started feeling better I'm coming down with a variation of whatever it is she's had for the past few days. While I doubt my illness will be nearly as severe as hers (a few winters in a cold, cold rehearsal hall does wonders for your immunity) it is shaping up to be a week of trying to work through the congestion, runny nose and vomitting of your run-of-the-mill seasonal affliction (and no, we're not talking H1N1 here - I'm sure we'll get that the week before Christmas).

And to top it all off, unlike the world's greatest wife, I don't get to call in sick, and if I don't work I just fall farther behind.

So, there's a lot to be done this week; By Jove still needs an actor (any thin, older guys out there - please call me!), Marriage is Murder will launch its publicity in earnest this week, and I've got to write like I've never written before on Helium to have any chance of still hitting my goal this month. And all that with a head cold.

Pass the tissues. It could be a sniffly ride.

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009 Sensational Elora Brochure

Available here. Check out all the information about our production of "By Jove!" on October 6th at the ECA.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Building some contacts

Grinder Productions is a member of the "Users of the Fergus Grand Theatre," a collaborative organization that has been brought together to oversee the application of the grant that was applied for and received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation this past summer.

As a member of that group we are expected to undertake a share of the activities that are required to achieve the grant's outcomes, as assigned at regular monthly meetings of the collaborative.

This month we have been tasked with generating a list of all the theatre groups in Wellington, Waterloo and Dufferin counties. This list includes community theatres, semi-professional groups, senior's drama groups and high school drama clubs and departments, in addition to other community-based organizations with a live performance component.

Our reason for generating this list will be to ensure that the entire region will receive information about the extensive series of workshops that we are offering as part of this grant. These workshops will cover generic topics like ladder-safety and WHMIS training as well as theatre-specific courses in set construction, lighting, sound and stage management, etc.

We'll be contacting people and groups over the next few weeks as we generate the list, but if you live in Wellington, Waterloo or Dufferin counties you can make sure that your group is included by getting in touch with us first!

Just e-mail or call 519-780-7593 and give us your name, the name of your organization and your organization's up-to-date contact information.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Newsletter

Available here, folks. I've included a couple of wedding pictures this month as well, because apparently people want to see some. Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

By Jove!

This charming little play, based on an ancient legend from Greek mythology, is all about the rewards of sharing. Jove, the king of the gods, having given the people wealth, plenty and fruitful crops decided to test their generosity. Disguised as beggars, he and his son Hermes wandered the land, seeking comfort but finding none, until the arrived at the humble cottage of Philemon and Baucis.

This show will take place on Tuesday, October 6th at the Elora Centre for the Arts as part of the Sensational Elora Festival. The show will accompanied by a meal of soup, bread, cheese, fruit, etc, similar to the humble-yet-gracious fare Philemon and Baucis serve to their guests.

This show is the perfect family outing, filled with humour, a little bit of ancient history, and a timeless lesson about remembering those who are less fortunate than yourself.

Tickets are $15 for adults and just $5 for kids. The show is being sponsored by Collins Barrow, and tickets are available through the Sensational Elora box office, either by phone at 519-846-5638 or online at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to School

It's that time again. Time for the most momentous un-official non-holiday of the year - the first day back to school. While few recognize it, and even fewer are willing to admit it, there's a societal sea-change afoot once the kids go back - routines become more established, the frenetic pace of summer fun is replaced with the mindless drugery of home and work, and families spend a little less time together. Even if you don't have kids there's an adjustment to be made - no more dropping by your buddy's place for a beer at 9pm - the kids are already in bed.

So what does the return of mediocrity and subservitude mean for theatre? Well, for one thing it signals an end to the summer season, theatre's busiest time (at least in this country). While a few companies do spill their seasons over into September most are now gearing up for their fall seasons, a time that can be quite lucrative, or quite slow, depending on the venue. Most everyone will be looking forward to doing something, anything to cash in on the holiday season in December, as that's almost like having another month of summer's excess, if you can find the right project.

In other words, theatres will keep stumbling blindly forward, hurtling from one season to the next, hoping to catch and keep a lucky break.

At Grinder Productions we're taking a slightly more measured approach. Whilst acknowledging the potential that the next few months will bring we must also recognize the risks. If we bite off more than we can chew right now we'll just shoot ourselves in the foot for 2010, when the really big plans are set to begin.

We have but three shows this fall, and one of them is just a one-night affair. By pouring our energy into these projects (as well as some work behind the scenes) I hope that we'll end 2009 on a high note - perhaps not wealthy but at least financially stable, and most importantly ready to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. With any luck, by the time the kids go back to school next year we'll be providing a lot of them (and their parents!) with some welcome relief from their boring daily routines.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Looking forward

Yesterday was a day of quiet reflection. The world's greatest wife was home with a headache, so I spent most of the day tending to her and trying to keep the flood of worried callers pacified (she has quite a loyal fan base). I didn't really want to do too much work for fear of disturbing her, so it wound up being a day for some forward-thinking about where I'd like to go from here.

And think I did. I'll spare you the fantasies - they were fun to indulge in, but ultimately well over the line into technically impossible. But once I got that out of my system I did manage to come to some fruitful conclusions:

  1. It's been a rough year. I can't stand it when other people blame the economy for their woes, and I don't feel right in saying the Great Depression of the 21st Century has been the cause of our malaise these past few months. Nonetheless, I am forced to admit that it has played a part, if only in people's mindsets. In 2010 though I don't think this will weigh so heavily upon so many people, including me.
  2. Next year will be better. I'm already further ahead on many of the shows this year than I was on some of the shows this summer. The 2010 season has been selected, and now I'm working on securing venues, directors and rehearsal drafts of scripts. By the time our open auditions roll around in January we'll have the people and the resources in place to cast every show in the coming year.
  3. It's time for a fresh approach. Between now and January 1st I'll be working on an overhaul of our operating procedures here a Grinder. It's a process that I've already had underway for some time now, as soon as it became clear that I was doing too much of the "rescuing" of shows that had been abandoned by other people. I'm in the process of compiling a step-by-step "workbook" for myself and other directors to use as production aides on shows, a move that will hopefully help keep us all on the same page and ensure each show is a quality production that reflects the best efforts of everyone involved in the company.
  4. We can do this. I'm sure that somewhere out there someone has written Grinder off for dead, or at the very least a lost cause. In fact, there are probably legions of people who have long since given us up for dead. But we're not dead. The beauty of such a large, diverse group of people involved in a large, diverse group of projects is that when one falls down there are many more in place to help pick things back up. So this summer wasn't so hot - the fall shows are already starting to pick up steam. So someone might think we're a joke - not two weeks ago an actor told me it was an honour to be working with this company.
I thought about a lot of other things yesterday, and I'm still thinking today about where this company needs to go in the next six months, the next 9 months, the next year, the next ten years and the next 30 years. We're still at the beginning of what I hope will be a very, very long journey, and while I won't be able to spend all my time looking forward, it will sure beat the wondering "what if" that I'd be doing if I spent all my time looking back.