Friday, February 26, 2010

Big News coming soon

I'll likely have some news to announce next week regarding our upcoming summer season. It'll be good news, I'm pretty sure, and I really want to spread the word now, but I can't just for the moment. Tune in next week!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crisis Management

It's been a long few months out here at the homestead. A lot has transpired, from a new bathroom that never seemed to be finished to health issues that never seemed to get resolved to physical and emotional exhaustion from the pressure of starting all of that at 5:20am every morning. Oh yeah, and it's winter, with all of its attendant challenges (cold, biting winds, snow, ice, cold, cold and did I mention the friggin' cold? - I see now how easy it is for people to get Seasonal Affective Disorder - sunlight or no sunlight).

Through it all the world's greatest wife has been there beside me, thank goodness. Without her I surely would have gone over the edge. As it is I find it difficult enough simply to concentrate on the tasks at hand - between the sleep deprivation and the peculiarities of a creative mind I feel like I'm a self-whipping mule sometimes.

Writing helps, when I can do it, which is why I'm so candidly blogging away here today. To express some of what I'm feeling in the forum where I'm the most comfortable, the most articulate and the most honest does help clear a little bit of the clutter. I suppose I could ramble on here ad nauseum and see whether or not I've finally get to the end of it, but I wouldn't do that to anyone who might actually be reading this, even if I thought it might work.

These are difficult days, I can't deny that, but then aren't all days inherently difficult? Don't we lurch from one crisis to the next and never see the end point of one until another rears up before us? I think that in order to put an end to the struggles I'm going to have to make the declaration that one crisis is over before the next one comes up, thus ushering in a period of calm in the interim. Hopefully this will allow me to be better prepared for the next crisis when it invariably does hit.

I've already come a long way, and I deal with problems much better now than I ever did before, but there's still plenty of room left for improvement.

Today we find out if one crisis has come to an end (or is at least beginning to come to an end). I can't share the details of it just yet, but I can tell you that if things have gone according to plan our days of difficulty will be a lot closer to memories than then are right now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hug an Actor/Techie/Theatre Geek Day?

Apparently April 23rd is Hug an Actor/Techie/Theatre Geek Day. It's probably got nothing on World Theatre Day (that would be March 27th - the day of our open auditions) but hey, it's still another reason to celebrate who we are and what we do, and there's nowhere near enough of that going on these days.

Here's the link to the Facebook group.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Preparing for an Audition

We've got just over a month until our open auditions on March 27th. If you're looking to just come on out, have some fun and do some cold reads from the shows this season there isn't really much preparation you need to do (although it might be a good idea to bring your calendar). But if you're interested in performing a prepared audition piece here's a few things you should keep in mind:
  1. Memorise your piece. Nothing screams "I don't have what it takes" like drying in the middle of your monologue. Nail the lines cold.
  2. Slow down. The people who are watching your audition have never heard your monologue before, and no matter how eager they may be to hear it they can't if you talk too fast.
  3. It's a performance. Treat your audition with as much seriousness as you would a show. Again, we're looking for a professional attitude and commitment.
There's no shame if you don't feel like you can do all of this, or all of the other things that audition handbooks tell you it's important to do - if you can't do it, go for the cold reads instead - the atmosphere will be much more informal, and you don't lose points for mistakes, because even when you screw up you're often unwittingly at your best. But if you aspire to a career in "the biz" then auditions are going to be a part of your life, so it's best that you learn all that they entail and how you can excel at them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fast Times at the Fergus Grand Theatre

There's been a lot of activity going on recently at the Fergus Grand Theatre. New draperies have been installed onstage, and some badly needed backstage clean-up and repairs have been done.

The new draperies are a direct result of the Trillium Grant currently being overseen by a collaborative of user groups of the Fergus Grand. Grinder Productions is pleased to be a member of this collaborative, doing our part to ensure the signature theatrical venue in our community remains a viable, vibrant space for years to come.

It's the "for years to come" part that I find the most important part of the whole project. The Grand is over 80 years old already - she needs constant care and attention to be kept in suitable shape for live performance, and as much as these new draperies are a welcome (and badly, badly needed) addition what's just as important is the sense of ownership amongst the user groups that this sort of collaboration can generate.

What's happening here, albeit very slowly, is an assumption of the narrative of this building by the community, and the subsequent validation of the space in the eyes of more and more people.

If you walk into any other theatre space that a company calls home you'll soon notice that for a lot of the members of that company the theatre does feel like home: people seem more affable, more at ease, and while a few may be a bit more messy most are a bit more careful not to make a mess in the first place, especially in a public area. They are a community, and this is their place, and they are welcoming the friends, family, neighbours and guests.

There was such a feeling when I first started doing shows at the Grand almost 15 years ago. A big part of what attracted me to the companies that called FGT home at that time was the warm, welcoming group of people who were eager to share their passion for the stage, people who could and did take pride in both the shows they were doing and the space they were doing them in.

Sadly that feeling was lost over the years, as community was replaced by corporate, and while there some great plays did hit the stage they came at the cost of the personal triumphs and the close-knit community of friends. By the time the ax finally fell on professional theatre in Fergus the community I had known when I first arrived was long gone, never to return.

For the past seven years now we've been forging a new community at the Grand, with players both new and old. Are we there yet? Not by a long shot. It turns out that you can't build a community overnight, or proclaim one into existence. Community is something that comes one show at a time, one meeting at a time, one day at a time.

But I'm not worried, because as I said, this is "for years to come." I've already been putting on plays at the Grand for 15 years, having done countless shows already in every capacity imaginable. In another 15 years and countless more shows I hope to be doing it still, and 15 years after that maybe I'll consider myself off to a decent start.

We've got a great thing going at 244 St Andrew. Here's to the next 80 years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another flag-waver

Check this one out, and please feel free to let me know what you think!

The most influential Canadian figures of the 20th Century

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Canadian Nationalism

This is one of the Helium articles I wrote recently on the topic "What is Canadian Nationalism?" Of course only an American company would ask such an unanswerable question, but I decided to take a stab it. Take a look, and see if you agree with me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An old cast picture

We found this in a bunch of old pictures on Jules’ camera – she thought she had sent me everything Grinder that she had, but these were new to me!

So here’s a long overdue look of the cast of Frankenstein, quite possibly the largest, most technically complex play we’ve ever done (okay, so Noises Off was pretty close too).

From left to right: Herbert Chamberlain, Sara Dunbar, Rachel Behling, Eric Regimbald, Gavin Baumbach, Brad Rooke, Mike Sutherland, Dean Dunbar, Kenton Kruger and Mathew Sega. The production was directed by Georgie Landry. Oh, the memories…

Monday, February 15, 2010

Audition Information and List of Roles

2010 Auditions – Synopsis of Available Roles

Here’s a sample of what we’re looking for this summer – there are just too many plays to list every role –surely there’s a part that will be a fit for you!



Chaucer Uncensored

(May 9th – July 3rd)

Act 1: The Miller’s Tale

John, the cuckolded husband

Alison, his pure young wife

Nicholas, a young scholar

Absolon, the lusty parish clerk

Graves, a blacksmith

Act 2: The Reeve’s Tale

Simkin, a Miller

His Wife

His grown daughter

John, a young scholar

Alan, another young scholar

(actors may have one role in each act)

Godiva’s Children

(May 23rd – July 17th)

Leslie Godiva, a hard-working single mother in her 40’s

Jerome, Leslie’s teenaged son

Lola, Leslie’s teenaged daughter

Roughing It

(June 6th – July 31st)

Rowan, a 50-something business exec, mom

Athena, her nearly grown-up daughter

Maeve, her Irish immigrant mother

Wild Angels

(June 20th – August 14th)

Mom – an internet junkie with bills to pay

Kid – desperately seeking something better

The Boarder – a shy librarian who moonlights as a vigilante

The Night – various roles and vices

The River Rats

(July 4th – August 28th)

Character Names TBA

There will be three roles available for women over the age of 18.


(May 23rd – July 10th)

(Selected Roles)

Cymbeline, King of Britain

Cloten, son to Queen by former husband

Leonatus, a gentlemen, husband to Imogen

Belarius, a banished lord

Guiderius and Arviragus, sons to Cymbeline, supposed sons of Belarius

Philario, Italian, friend to Posthumus

Iachimo, Italian, friend to Philario

Caius Lucius, General of the Roman Forces

Pisanio, servant to Posthumus

Cornelius, a physician

Queen, wife to Cymbeline

Imogen, daughter to King by former queen

Mrs. Warren’s Profession

(June 13th – July 31st)

Praed – “hardly past middle age”

Vivie Warren – 22 “sensible, able, educated”

Mrs. Kitty Warren – “between 40 and 50”

Sir George Crofts – tall, powerful, about 50

Frank Gardner – “not long turned 20”

The Rev. Samuel Gardner – over 50

The 18 Carat Boob

(July 4th – August 21st)

Daisy Bell – 17, a lively, very feminine girl

Alice Bisnette – 18, a quiet, modest girl

Cora ~ 48, housekeeper, devoted to Alice

Charles ~ 49, chauffeur, Cora’s husband

Billy Kerns – 16, boyish, good student

Kitty Darling – 16, babyish, spoiled, lisps

Bella Sparks – 18, lively, rather boyish

Bud – 22, looks younger, an 18 Carat Boob

Bisnette – Alice’s Father, 45, businessman

Raymond Barkville ~ 34, suave, mysterious

Anna ~ 26, a maid, brisk and businesslike

Jack Merry ~23, quiet, proud, headstrong

Too many to mention!

Just come on out and tell us when you’re available, we’ll get you in somewhere!

The Heart of Eden

(May 9th – June 26th)

Eden – A cute, bubbly girl of about 20 with good movement skills who can sing.

Mike – A “loveable geek” of about the same age, also needs to move well and sing.

Hitchin’ at the Junction

(May 16th – July 3rd)

Bessie Buxomb – the heroine, “a simple girl with plain features,” smarter than she looks.

Cyril Snead – the meanest, nastiest, most dastardly villain you’ll ever meet!

Archibald Althus Altman – the hero. Stationmaster and county possum wrangler.

Love Notes

(May 23rd – July 10th)

Character Names TBA

Four roles are available, and all will require excellent mime and movement skills.

Laughing Out Loud

(May 30th – July 17th)

3 male or female comedians. I’m looking for clean but funny stand-up comedy. Your own material would be preferable, but we can help fill your 15 minute set if necessary.

The Girls of Grinder

(June 6th – July 24th)

Any females of any age with vocal talent are invited to come out and perform one or two songs, and join in group numbers. Please bring your own music on CD to the audition.

Legends of Elysium

(June 13th – July 31st)

3 Vocalists, any genre – Each vocalist in this show will get a 15 minute solo set, and may be asked to do a group number or two.

Narrator – connects the sets, could sing too.

Philemon and Baucis

(June 20th – August 7th)

Philemon, a poor husbandman, well past 60

Baucis, his wife, also well past 60

Jove, the King of the Gods

Hermes, his son, the Messenger God

Prologue and Epilogue

The Duke of Gordon

(June 27th – August 14th)

The Duke of Gordon

His Daughters: Elizabeth, Margaret, Jean

Captain Ogilvie

Many other roles – perfect play for beginners!

Where Corn Don’t Grow

(July 4th – August 21st)

Character Names TBA

The Father – an old farmer

His Grown-up son

His Grown-up daughter

Steppin’ Up

(July 11th – August 28th)

Anyone of any age with dancing ability is invited to perform, either solo or in groups. Please bring your own music on CD.

Muzzle Blast

(May 23rd – July 10th)

Julie – Aged about 35. A single mom in a dead-end job, makes poor choices with men.

Katherine –16. Julie’s reckless, rebelling, daughter who believes she’s indestructible.

Harold – an angry 20-something who’s just been thrown out by his wife.

Hangin’ in the Balance

(June 6th – July 24th)

Nadia – A figment of an author’s imagination, a much-maligned Muse, the chronicler of terrible tales.

Lost and Found

(June 20th – August 7th)

She, the woman who washes up on the rock looking for her guardian angel

He, the man who washes up on the rock looking for his absolution


(July 4th – August 21st)

Vincent, a deeply troubled young man

The woman, a mysterious figure that enters his life in a drunken stupor

Auditions Information

Date: Saturday, March 27th

Location: Ennotville Library

Children’s Auditions: 9am – 12pm (1 hour sessions in groups, no prep)

Open Reading: 1pm – 5pm (1 hour sessions in groups, no prep)

Specialists: 6pm – 9pm (15 minutes/person, prepare song/monologue)

Late Nights: 9pm – 10pm (15 minutes/person, monologue if desired)

For more information or to book an audition time please call Eric at 519-780-7593 or email Remember, no previous experience is necessary to audition for Grinder Productions!

Friday, February 12, 2010


My apologies that all of this week's posting have looked more like Tweets (yes, I do that sometimes too). It's been kind of crazy around the Impressario's house this week (and the last few) so since I thought a few short lines to keep in touch was better than none at all I made sure to sit down and write these few in a spare moment. More in-depth content to return next week!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm not much of a sports fan...

... but good luck to all our Canadian athletes at the Vancouver Olympics!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We had a bit of technical glitch with the website last week - the webmaster! So the Februrary edition of the newsletter wasn't up on February 1st as planned. Fortunately the situation has now been rectified - sorry for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crew Call

I've been talking a lot lately about our upcoming open auditions, but it's not just the actors who make a season happen. There's a whole slew of backstage jobs that need to be done, from design to construction to stage management and everything else in between. These are the places where the unsung heroes of theatre production live, and it's an area that we need people more than ever. No matter what your area of interest or your level of skill we have plenty of opportunities for you to help us out this summer. Why not join us? Call 519-780-7593 or e-mail grinder@grinderproduc and we can talk further!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Open Auditions

I did the math on the weekend - we've got over 100 roles to fill this summer! We need people from all ages, backgrounds and walks of life to be in our shows. People who would like to rehearse during the day, during the evening, during the week or on the weekends. We have a show that will fit every schedule, and I can guarantee that anyone who comes on out with a smile on their face and the right attitude is going to be offered a role somewhere in our vast summer season!

Please call 519-780-7593 or e-mail for more information or to book your time slot today. Auditions will he held on Saturday, March 27th (yes, World Theatre Day!) at the Ennotville Library.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Auditions now open

Beat the crowd!

We're now taking bookings for all types of auditions. Here's a breakdown of how the day is going to go. Call 519-780-7593 or e-mail and book your spot today!

The auditions for our 2010 season will take place on Saturday, March 27th at the Ennotville Library. There will be several different auditions throughout the day, so please take a moment to look at each of the categories below to see which type of audition you are best suited for.

Children’s Auditions: 9am – 12pm (1 hour sessions)

Kids between the ages of 8 and 14 are invited to come and show us their stuff. No experience or preparation is necessary, just wear loose, comfortable clothing and be prepared to have some fun! Through games, improvs and other exercises we’ll find the best part for you, and get you involved in one of our Saturday morning shows this summer!

Open Reading: 1pm – 5pm (1 hour sessions)

Anyone aged 15 and over is invited to come on out and read. No preparation or previous experience is necessary. You’ll be able to audition for any show in our summer season, and both current and new Grinder members are encouraged to come out to this relaxed, no pressure open call.

Specialists: 6pm – 9pm (15 minutes/person)

If you sing, dance or are an actor looking for a professional-caliber audition this one is for you. Give us a song, a dance, or a comedic monologue (either contemporary or classical). You’ll be auditioning for all shows in the summer season, but especially for roles as featured performers in the “Mostly Music Lunch” series.

Late Nights: 9pm – 10pm (TBA)

If you’re looking for something a little more cutting edge then you may be a candidate for one of our late-night shows. You must be 18 years or older and not have a problem with coarse language and mature subject matter. Auditions can be either cold read or prepared monologue, as desired.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Standby, Mackenzie - Chapter 2

Mackenzie awoke to the sound of the vacuum cleaner out in the lobby. She glanced down at her watch: 9:43 am. Reluctantly she willed herself to sit up, but as she opened her eyes the black curtains around her began to spin. She put her hand to her head. Then suddenly she felt her stomach start to do summersaults. Oh no.

A minute or so of throwing up in the backstage washroom later and Mackenzie’s head was feeling a bit better, even though the rest of her now felt as if she’d been whipped at the stake. She flushed the toilet, cleaned herself up as best as she could, then gingerly headed out to the auditorium.

Steven and LLG were both laying across several seats in the front row. Like Mackenzie, they had spent the night at the theatre after the strike. By the time the set was down, the props put away, the costumes washed and the lighting returned to the house plot the cast party had long since ended and Frank and the actors had gone to bed, so the Techies (along with Marlene, who had be deputized as an extra hand for the strike) had had a celebration of their own, and Mackenzie had been definitely been out of her league. She remembered Juan’s few feeble attempts to join her on the Equity cot, and that he’d been unsuccessful, but not much else. Oh yeah, and now she was a professional stage manager with a show that went into rehearsals tomorrow.

It wasn’t until Mackenzie got to the lobby that she put two and two together and realized that the vacuum cleaner had to be operated by someone. Sure enough, it was Bret.

Bret. Bret was the bartender and janitor for the theatre, the guy who fixed the drinks and fixed the toilets and was responsible for keeping the building in suitable condition for an audience night after night. He booked the volunteers, bought supplies and never missed a day, even coming in on a Sunday to clean things up before the box office opened on Monday morning. And he was just a two years older than Mackenzie. And handsome. Extremely, handsome. Way too handsome to meet with bed-head, no make-up and smelling like nachos and Peach Schnapps.

“Me oh me oh my, it must have been a party,” Bret sang when he saw her.

“Yeah, it was… fun.”

“You look like the bottom of Marlene’s ashtray. You probably wish I’d turn this vacuum cleaner off, don’t you?”

“Would you?!”

Bret turned off the vacuum.


“You want to come down the street with me for a coffee and a bagel?”

“Uh, sure. Do you mind if I clean up a little bit first?”

Mackenzie just made it into the bathroom before throwing up again. As she swore to herself never to drink again she heard Bret knocking on the door.

“You okay in there?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, I mean, I will be. Just give me a minute.”

“Don’t worry about the mess. The bathroom is next on my list, and I’ve cleaned up plenty of puke in my day.”

After a long, slow, often unsteady walk down the street Mackenzie was glad when Bret suggested they sit in the coffee shop for a little while. The Sunday morning crowd was mostly church-goers who were on their way to church: people who didn’t have the time to stop and chat until after the service, so while there was a line-up the tables themselves were pretty much clear. A bagel with some cream cheese, a cup of coffee and the time to enjoy it was just what Mackenzie needed. And sitting at a table for two across from Bret didn’t hurt much either.

“So the word on the street is you’re the new Marvin,” Bret said as he polished off his bagel.

“Yeah. I think I’m totally nuts.”

“You are.” They both laughed.

“I don’t even know what I should be doing today. I mean rehearsals start tomorrow!”

“I guess Frank didn’t give you crash course in professional Stage Management 101?”

“No. Maybe I should ask Steven. I mean he must know something about Stage Managing right?”

“You’d think that, wouldn’t you?”

Mackenzie still wasn’t fully awake, but something about the way Bret was talking made her suspicious.

“Do you know something about this that I don’t?” she asked.

“I know Steven couldn’t stage manage his way out of a paper bag. If you go to him and ask him for some ‘advice’ he’ll spend the rest of the day with you in coffee shops and bars telling stories about shows he’s worked on that he feels have some connection to stage management. The truth is he hasn’t got a clue about that part of the business, and the only reason he made it through last night’s show was because Marvin had left him an amazingly complete prompt book.”

“And how do you know all this?”

“I’ve been around.”

“You’re 21.”

“Listen, do you want some advice you can actually use?”

Mackenzie leaned forward, studying Bret’s face. He suddenly looked more mature than he had a moment ago, and strangely confident.

“Okay, then, Mr. Smarty Pants, what do you think I should do to prepare for this show?”

“Finish your breakfast. Then go back to the theatre, get a copy of the script out of Steven’s Office and make a copy for yourself. Set it up exactly like Marvin’s. Then make lists of all the props, set pieces, costumes, lighting cues, sound cues and special effects that are in the script, and leave a copy of it on Steven’s desk. Take the set design that’s in the shop and make a copy of it, then tape out the floor plan on the stage. Find rehearsal props and furniture and set them up as per the set design, and then set up a table in the auditorium for you and Frank. Assemble your office supplies, set up a table on stage for the read-through and the go home and get some sleep. You’ve got a very busy week ahead of you. Now I’ve got toilets to clean.”

And with that Bret knocked back the last mouthful of his coffee, got up and walked back to the theatre, leaving a stunned Mackenzie to finish her breakfast alone.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February Newsletter Now Available

Happy Groundhog day!

Newsletter is on the website (you may need to refresh your browser). It contains lots of important info for anyone who's interested in auditioning - like what the roles are!

Check it out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Helium Contest

There's a writing contest on Helium right now that I'm working on. It's the "Title Madness" contest, an ongoing event that offers writers the chance to put up a bunch of articles on topics around a similar theme. Presumably in preparation for an expected upswing in traffic during the Olympics there's currently a "Canada" contest.

I'm writing furiously as fast as I can to fill as many of these titles with high-quality articles. Check out the leaderboard and see how I'm doing, and then enjoy some of the articles!