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 Ticketleap.com and get your tickets today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Looking for Resources

If you've been to see the new and improved www.grinderproductions.org (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 grinder@grinderproductions.org.

Thanks!

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 www.grinderproductions.org 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 www.grinderproductions.org. 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 www.grinderproductions.org. 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 www.grinderproductions.org 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 grinder@grinderproductions.org 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.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8281253.stm