Friday, April 30, 2010

Call for Playwrights

The Playwright’s Circle at Grinder Productions

Grinder Productions is a live theatre company committed to producing theatre that dares to be different. What could be more different than a new piece of live theatre! As part of our commitment to advance both stagecraft and the Canadian canon of dramatic literature Grinder Productions is pleased to announce the creation of our playwright’s circle.

Our Goals

  • To give ordinary people a chance to tell their stories through theatre
  • To workshop, review and discuss new plays, providing substantial, constructive, honest feedback to the writer
  • To reward playwrights with the production of their plays

Our Process

There are three tiers of the playwright’s circle, each reflecting the increased levels of commitment to the writing process:

  • Short Drama: Members will create short scenes, two-person dialogues, comedic sketches, monologues, songs, movement pieces and other dramatic materials generally not longer than 10 minutes in length.
  • One-Acts: Members will outline, draft and develop a one-act play 20 – 50 minutes in length.
  • Full-length: Members will craft a full-length play, which will then be extensively reviewed and work-shopped by the circle, and often given a staged reading. The final product will be given a main stage production.

All members of the circle are encouraged to write to all three tiers to whatever degree they feel comfortable doing so.

I’d like to start this group by giving it a goal – creating material for the fall 2010 season at Grinder. This will require short drama (on a variety of topics) as well as one-act plays (content of the author’s choosing) and some full-length adaptations of classic literary works.

Eventually I’d like us to have meetings to review and discuss each other’s works, but to get the ball rolling I’d like to keep our conversations on line to make it easier on everyone’s schedules.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lost and Found Sample on Helium

Here's a bit of Lost and Found I was able to adapt for use on Helium - all the course language had to be edited out, hence some of the odd word choices. Once again, feedback welcomed.

Drama: Resolve

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Godiva's Children Sample - Comments welcome

Godiva’s Children
A Comedy in Two Acts
By Eric Goudie
1st Draft © March 2010

Time: The Present.
Place: A holding cell in the local jail.

The scene is simple. A prisoner’s cell takes up an 8’x8’ square of the stage, with bars across the front of a windowless room. There’s a bed in the corner and that’s about it.

The stage extends in front of the cell a few feet, with a door on SR and a bench on SL

Act 1

At lights up Jerome is discovered sitting on the bed in the cell. He wears normal clothes and looks like a typical teenage kid. He looks sad, and a little bit frightened.

Offstage, we hear Leslie’s voice.

LESLIE: (off) In there? He’s in there? Through this door?
JEROME: Mom?

The door opens and Leslie Godiva comes in. She’s a 40-something working single mom. She’s followed by her daughter, Lola, who closes the door behind her and stands there, stunned.

JEROME: Mom!
LESLIE: Jerome!

Leslie goes over to the bars. Jerome reaches through to hug her, but instead she slaps him.

LESLIE: You idiot!
JEROME: Mom?
LESLIE: You stupid, stupid, stupid boy!
JEROME: Mom, I –
LESLIE: Stunned as me arse!
JEROME: Mom, -
LESLIE: How could you do something like this? How in the world? What the hell is the matter with you? When did I teach you to behave like that?
JEROME: Mom –
LESLIE: You’re a disgrace – you hear me? A disgrace! You’re a disgrace to me, you’re a disgrace to your sister, you’re even a disgrace to your rotten father. It was his idea, wasn’t it? He told you to do this. Did he tell you to do this?
JEROME: No, mom –
LESLIE: Don’t lie to me, Jerome? Did your father tell you to do this? Did he say “hey kid, you wanna be cool? I know somethin’ that’ll get everyone to like you.” That’s about the level of your father’s intelligence you know. If you can’t eat it, get drunk from it or give it a tune-up chances are it’s out of his league.
JEROME: No, mom, let me explain –
LESLIE: Did your father put you up to this? It’s just the sort of thing he’d do, just to get back at me, just to turn my crank. I can’t believe that bastard would use you just to piss me off –
JEROME: Mom, Dad didn’t put me up to this.
LESLIE: He didn’t?
JEROME: No.
LESLIE: Oh.
JEROME: It was just me.
LESLIE: You?
JEROME: Just me. Not Dad, not my friends, not anyone. Just me

A pause.

LESLIE: You idiot!
JEROME: Mom!
LESLIE: You stupid, stupid, stupid boy!
JEROME: Mom, I think we’ve been through all this already, could you just maybe calm down a little bit, I –
LESLIE: How could you do something like this? How in the world? What the hell is the matter with you? When did I teach you to behave like that?
JEROME: Mom, stop repeating yourself. You’re being hysterical. Lola, tell mom she’s being hysterical.
Lola: Shut up, pervert.
JEROME: Lola!
Lola: You heard me, pervert.
JEROME: Oh come on, Lola. Don’t be like that. You are my big sister and I need you to be a big sister right now.
Lola: (screaming) PERVERT!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Job Offer

Summer Job Posting: Director of Children’s Programming

Grinder Productions is Centre Wellington’s most diverse live theatre company. We are seeking an energetic, positive, out-going person to assist us with our Children and Youth programs this summer. Most of the work involved in this position will be conducted at our signature summer venue, the Ennotville Historical Library, a 19th century community hall located in the tiny Hamlet of Ennotville, Ontario, between the town of Fergus and the city of Guelph.

This position will have two areas of responsibility.

  1. Cast, direct, design, produce and assist with the promotion of our Children’s Series, 10 one-act Children’s plays, one each Saturday from June 26th – August 28th.
  2. Conduct two drama camps for kids ages 8-12, one in July and one in August. Each camp will be four weeks long, and cover the basics of theatre/performance. May conclude with a small show.

The Ideal candidate for this position will have:

  • An exceptionally positive attitude
  • The ability to keep track of a large number of projects at one time
  • Previous experience in Children’s theatre
  • Previous experience in theatre production
  • Previous directing experience
  • A Police check (PRC) may also be required (we’re looking into this)

Start Date: The week of May 23rd

End Date: The week of August 22nd

Remuneration: This position will pay $200 per week.

You will need to attend auditions on Saturday, May 29th in order to cast the shows. One or more meetings will also be required for production planning and curriculum development.

Please e-mail your resume and/or portfolio no later than May 10th to:

Eric and Julie Goudie

Creative and Executive Co-Directors

Grinder Productions

Telephone: 519-780-7593

E-mail: grinder@grinderproductions.org

Monday, April 26, 2010

The journey begins

It's beginning to look a lot like summer around the homestead. The flowers are in bloom, the goats are clamouring for the pasture, the skunks and raccoons have gone mysteriously inconspicuous while they have their litters.

I do enjoy this time of year, and not simply because the weather is getting warmer. After what always seems like a long and difficult winter I can't help finding optimism in the sunny days and spring chores. Apparently we're getting our own lawn mower this summer, which means we'll have to cut our own grass, which is will take up a lot of time, but at least it will be time spent outdoors making the most the good weather (I think after ten years of summer stock tech work my seratonin levels are still desperately low - bring on the Vitamin D).

Of course, spring also means that the summer theatre season is just around the corner, and despite my best efforts to make Grinder a year-round operation I still find that the biggest uptick in activity are the summer months, so it feels like we're getting ready for an old-fashioned summer theatre season.

The world's greatest wife tells me she has a good feeling about this summer, much different than last year (which, for those of you who remember, was a cold, rainy nightmare). I'm inclined to believe her, if only because these past few months of preparations, while fraught with no shortage of the usual troubles, gave rise to far fewer crises than in 2009. We're in better shape this year, we have more people, we have fewer expenses and most importantly we have excitement building in our company about what's to come this summer.

Frankly, I share Jules' exuberance, though perhaps I'm a bit more cautious in my optimism, for I've seen over-confidence rear up and smack us in the past. But I am feeling good - no, I'm feeling great, about what this summer holds in store for us.

Challenges? You bet. But as this journey begins our resources to meet those challenges are stronger than ever before.

Here's to a great summer - enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Job Offer

Summer Job Posting: Director of Children’s Programming

Grinder Productions is Centre Wellington’s most diverse live theatre company. We are seeking an energetic, positive, out-going person to assist us with our Children and Youth programs this summer. Most of the work involved in this position will be conducted at our signature summer venue, the Ennotville Historical Library, a 19th century community hall located in the tiny Hamlet of Ennotville, Ontario, between the town of Fergus and the city of Guelph.

This position will have two areas of responsibility.
1. Cast, direct, design, produce and assist with the promotion of our Children’s Series, 10 one-act Children’s plays, one each Saturday from June 26th – August 28th.
2. Conduct two drama camps for kids ages 8-12, one in July and one in August. Each camp will be four weeks long, and cover the basics of theatre/performance. May conclude with a small show.

The Ideal candidate for this position will have:
• An exceptionally positive attitude
• The ability to keep track of a large number of projects at one time
• Previous experience in Children’s theatre
• Previous experience in theatre production
• Previous directing experience
• A Police check (PRC) may also be required (we’re looking into this)

Start Date: The week of May 23rd
End Date: The week of August 22nd
Remuneration: This position will pay $200 per week.

You will need to attend auditions on Saturday, May 29th in order to cast the shows. One or more meetings will also be required for production planning and curriculum development.

Please e-mail your resume and/or portfolio no later than May 10th to:

Eric and Julie Goudie
Creative and Executive Co-Directors
Grinder Productions
Telephone: 519-780-7593
E-mail: grinder@grinderproductions.org

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Muzzle Blast Sampler - comments welcome!

Muzzle Blast – The Redux

A Play in One Act

By Eric Goudie

4th Draft © May 2009

Time: The present.

Place: Montreal. A working-class Anglophone neighbourhood.

The set represents two working-class apartments, crammed together in a dilapidated building. Julie and Katherine share the SR apartment. A kitchen runs along the rear wall, with a small table and two chairs just downstage. Down from that, the door to the apartment hallway. That’s about it, though the entire place should be strewn with overflowing ashtrays, trashy magazines and the most pathetic of feminine accoutrements.

Harold’s apartment is SL. His is much the same as Julie and Katherine’s, but the kitchen fades off SL and the couch doubles as a bed when needed. Again, the place is strewn with beer cans, cigarette butts and porn, perhaps even dirtier than the other apartment.

A very narrow hallway runs between the two apartments and another narrow hallway runs across the front of them. The rest of the space downstage SL and SR is open and can be used for the non-apartment scenes, with minimal set pieces that can be removed when not in use.

Scene 1 – Julie and Katherine’s Apartment

Lights up on Julie in the hallway, carrying two bags of groceries. She fumbles with her keys and just manages to get in without dropping anything. She is still in her uniform, that of a diner waitress: boring, threadbare, designed by a man for a man. She kicks off her shoes and goes over to the answering machine and puts the groceries away during the following messages.

V/O 1: Hello dear, it’s your mother…again. Call me one of these days, will you? Or better yet, why don’t you come up here for a cup of coffee some day? Don’t try and tell me you’re so busy you can’t get away for a few hours to visit your own mother. (Pause) I can send your father down to Arnie’s for a drink, if you like. He can still remember where Arnie’s is, in fact he’s there right now. I don’t think he’d even recognize you anymore, to be perfectly honest. Anyway, call me, okay?

JULIE: Fat chance, bitch. Throw the old pervert in jail, then maybe we’ll talk.

V/O 2: Julie. Frank. Pick-up. I know you’re home. You left over an hour ago. Jessie called in sick. Stupid little skank. I need you to work a double tomorrow, no excuses, okay?

JULIE: Asshole.

V/O 3: This is an automated message from Rosedale High School. Your child “Katherine” was marked absent from “5th” period today. Detention has been assigned and future lateness or absence without medical certification will result in suspension.

JULIE: What did you do now, you little tramp?

Julie has finished putting the groceries away and crosses to the couch. She lays down and puts a cold cloth on her head, still smoking. She closes her eyes.

Katherine appears in the hallway. She too is smoking a cigarette, which she stamps out before she enters. She comes in and reaches for Julie’s smokes.

JULIE: And just what do you think you’re doing?

KATHERINE: Just tidying up a bit for you, mom.

JULIE: Sure. Don’t you know smoking is bad for your health?

KATHERINE: I don’t smoke, mom.

JULIE: And I suppose you don’t have a tattoo on you left tit either, do you?

KATHERINE: Mom!

JULIE: Sooner or later a mother finds out all her daughter’s secrets, Katherine, never forget that. So how was school today?

KATHERINE: Sucked. How was work?

JULIE: Sucked. Are those new shoes?

KATHERINE: Yeah. Isabelle gave them too me. She says they hurt her feet too much. She’s getting so fat that in another couple of months none of her clothes are going to fit her.

JULIE: She’s not pregnant, is she?

KATHERINE: No, just stupid. Can I have a beer?

JULIE: You want to get fat like Isabelle?

KATHERINE: No, I want to get drunk and forget about my crummy day, just like you.

JULIE: Not a chance. So tell me about 5th period.

KATHERINE: 5th period?

JULIE: 5th period.

KATHERINE: Phys Ed. I hate it. Say, have you seen the new neighbour? The guy who moved into 410? I saw him leaving this morning. He’s fairly young, younger than you anyway. Probably single. Why don’t you…?

JULIE: Back to 5th period, matchmaker.

KATHERINE: Who cares about 5th period?

JULIE: Apparently not you. The school called. They said you skipped.

KATHERINE: So?

JULIE: Did you?

KATHERINE: Yeah.

JULIE: Why?

KATHERINE: I had my reasons.

JULIE: Let’s hear them.

KATHERINE: It’s none of your business.

JULIE: You’re my daughter. And you’re fifteen. It is my business. Now where were you?

KATHERINE: Well if you’re going to be so anal about it, fine. I was at a rally downtown. I was out supporting a cause I believe in.

JULIE: And what cause was that?

KATHERINE: Gun control. The government wants to extend the deadline for registering every gun in Canada another six months. We didn’t think that was appropriate. After all, they’ve had years to do this…

JULIE: And you think a bunch of illiterate rednecks are worth skipping school over?

KATHERINE: It’s not that at all. They’re deliberately dragging their feet. We don’t want the government to extend the deadline. The law is the law. We want them to start arresting those bastards.

JULIE: You’ll be living on the streets if you don’t graduate.

KATHERINE: Are you even listening to me? This is serious.

JULIE: So is skipping school. Look, honey, I’m glad you feel strongly about this, really I do, but it’s just not worth skipping school over.

KATHERINE: How can you say that? Do you remember what happened down at…?

JULIE: Yes, I remember. I’m glad you want to honour their memories. But if they were alive today I’m sure…

KATHERINE: But they’re not alive today, mom. They’re dead. They’re dead because we couldn’t do anything to stop the monsters who hate us just because we’re women. Well now we can stop them. We can stop them from doing what they did to those women down at the Polytechnique, and that’s one hell of a lot more important thing to me than a damn class.

JULIE: I don’t want the school to call again.

KATHERINE: Mom!

JULIE: No more skipping. Any more and you’ll be grounded for another week.

KATHERINE: Another week?

JULIE: You weren’t going to get off with just a warning. Consider yourself lucky you don’t lose your phone.

KATHERINE: You’re treating my like a kid!

JULIE: You are a kid! My kid. A very stubborn, stupid, pig-headed kid, but still my kid. And my kid is not going to be skipping classes. My kid is going to go to school, study her ass off and graduate and have some decent chances in her life that her mother never had.

KATHERINE: What’s the point of having chances if I can’t walk through a dark alley late at night?

JULIE: That’s enough!

KATHERINE: Why aren’t you listening to me?

JULIE: I said that’s enough!

KATHERINE: You’re scared, aren’t you? You’re scared I’ll drop out of school and wind up just like you. Just another pregnant teenage whore.

Julie strikes Katherine across the face.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More How-to Guides

I especially like the "How to get started in Acting" one. Check out the video - Sir Ian McKellan on Acting - it offers the best acting advice EVER!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday



29-and-a-half never loooked so good...

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to save money on theatre tickets

Apparently this is an article that's appealing to a lot of people on Helium - Enjoy!

How to save money on theatre tickets

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hitchin' at the Junction Sample - your comments welcome!

Hitchin’ at the Junction

A “Gay Nineties” Melodrama in One Act

By Eric Goudie

1st Draft © November 2009

Scene: The Train station in Ennotville (the name can be changed to a local reference) on a hot summer’s day. A small rectangular building with a ticket window and door forms the station-master’s office upstage left. A bench sits just centre of the office, and a large lever for switching the tracks likes SR. The lever has two positions – one marked “Into Town” and the other marked “Elora Gorge” (or other local reference to a deep gully, ravine or cliff). The lever is currently in the “Into Town” position. A single line of train tracks run across the front of the stage.

Music Begins

Offstage Voices:

Oh we are the good folks of the drama

Come here to brighten up your day

With a story ‘bout your Grandpa and Grandma

And life as it was in times of yesterday.

Here at the (Ennotville) railroad junction

Some trouble will happening today

But everything that happens has a function

In the happy ending to our little play.

But we’re going to need to ask you to help us

To make sure our story turns out right

Yell hooray and cheer and fuss

When you see our hero dressed in white

And when you see the lovely Bessie

She’ll surely catch the eye of every fellow

Watch over her when things start to get messy

And you’ll know her by her lovely gown of yellow

There’s just one more person to this pack

And here is what we’d like you to do to

When you see the villain dressed in black

Shout at him, jeer at him, hiss at him and boo boo boo!

Now you know all you need to play

It’s time for our show to start

Have fun upon this wondrous day

And don’t forget to play your part.

Lights up.

Bessie enters. She is a ravishing yet virtuous beauty, dressed in a yellow dress of cheap cloth and innocent modesty. She carries a small suitcase, and an umbrella, which she is holding over her head to protect herself from the hot summer’s sun. She looks about, sees that no one else is around and sits down on the bench. She reaches into her dress and pulls out a small necklace with a heart-shaped locket, which she opens up and looks at. She lets out a long, mournful sigh.

Bessie: Oh, woe is me. I am a poor, orphaned little lost soul in the sea of life. Oh mother and father, why did you abandon me so young? (she sings)

I’m a lost soul in the sea of life

To mommy and daddy I was nothin’ but strife

Now I’m alone and my worries are rife

I’m a sad lost soul in the sea of life

When I was a child life was happy and gay

My parents owned a freak show in a circus midway

We didn’t have much but we had fun every day

And as far as we knew that’s how it would stay

Then one day a creepy man came to the fair

Pulled out a gun and told us to put our hands in the air

He cleaned us out but the circus owners didn’t care

The demanded at day’s end that we still pay our share

Well Daddy had no savings and Mommy was broke

So the went to the owners and of their troubles they spoke

But the owners were mean and they didn’t give a croak

They called the police and my parents were arrested – no joke!

So now my parents are in prison and I am alone

Doing my virtuous best to get enough blood from a stone

If I were a dog surely someone would throw me a bone

But none will help me and it seems I’m on my own

So here I am that station of the little place

To see if I can find someone who’ll look upon my face

Perhaps my looks, with some charm and a touch of grace

Will bring this sadness to end and me to a happier place!

At the conclusion of the song Bessie returns to lovingly admiring the pictures of her parents and letting out some more mournful sighs. Suddenly a loud explosion is heard off SR. Bessie leaps to her feet, replaces the locket and peers into the distance.

B: Christmas to Murgatroyd! An explosion by the side of the old gorge! I must go quickly and make sure that nobody was hurt.

Bessie hurries off SR. The stage is empty for a few moments, then Cedric Snead enters, clothed in black from head to toe, but dusting off some dirt from the explosion.

C: Ahh, the station is deserted, I see. Perfect! Now I can complete my fiendish plan in peace.

Cedric goes over to the lever and pulls it (with much effort) to the “Gorge” position.

C: There! Now when the Daily Flyer comes charging through this pitiful little station instead of going straight through town it will divert and head to the gorge. By the time the engineer realizes that I, Cedric Snead, have blown up the bridge over the gorge it will be too late! The train will go over the edge and be a spectacular wreck. And then I should have no trouble stealing the money that is stored on board the train, money that is destined for the Governor’s Bank in Inverhaugh (or other local reference). I’ll be rich, rich, RICH! (he laughs fiendishly)

C: All I have to do do now is make sure that no one happens to come by and notice that switch! It’s a wonder there’s no incompetent country boob of a station-master here minding his post. I had hoped to dupe him with some elaborate ruse and perhaps even get him to throw the switch himself. But not matter. All is in place now. Nothing to do but sit back and wait for my fiendish plan to be a success! (more devilish laughter) Now, I wonder what I shall do with all that money.

Cedric sits down on the bench and daydreams of his riches. A few moments later Bessie re-enters, her dress no covered with soot, burn marks and tears. She is stumbling along, clearly unable to see her way.

B: The station! I must have made my way back to the station. Yes, this is the lever I saw earlier, but I could have sworn it was in the other position.

Cedric starts at the sound of Bessie’s voice, and then stares at her, awestruck.

C: No, it can’t be –

B: Hello? Is someone there? Can you help me?

C: (in a very fake accent) Hello, miss. My name is Cedr – er, I mean Seymour Smith and I am the station master for this little town. How can I help you?

B: Oh, Mr. Smith I’m so glad I’ve found you. I was here earlier and the station was deserted – why weren’t you about?

C: (accent) Oh my apologies, Miss, but I have been busy all morning a-chasin’ after my second cousin’s pigs.

B: Oh dear me, Mr. Smith, I guess pigs are awfully hard to catch. But I do need your help, Mr. Smith – the lives of many may depend on you!

C: (accent) Me, miss?

B: Yes, you Mr. Smith. You see, I was sitting here at the station when I saw what looked like an explosion over by the gorge. When I went over to investigate I found that the bridge had indeed been blown up! Fortunately it looked like no one had been hurt, but as I stared into the flaming debris looking for anyone in trouble the fire’s brightness seared my eyes and has left me blinded! I believe it’s only temporary, for I can see al little more with each passing moment. But I was sure that when I left the lever was in the other position, the one pointing away from the gorge. Now the lever points to the gorge. Mr. Smith, the Daily Flyer is in grave danger! You must reset the switch!

C: (accent) What is your name, young beauty?

B: Oh my apologies, Mr. Smith. I would shake your hand if I could see you, but I can only just dimly make out shapes at present. My name is Miss Beatrice Buxom. Everyone just calls me Bessie, though.

C: (no accent) Ah ha! I knew it! (quickly, with accent) Ah, Miss Buxom, here is my hand, though I fear it’s coarse lines and bony ridges may be too crude to ever touch palms with as fine and exquisite a creature as you.

B: Oh, Mr. Smith, you flatter me foolish! I am just a simple girl with plain features and modest assets. But what about the train?

C: (accent) You needn’t worry yourself about the train, Miss Buxom. The Daily Flyer isn’t running today.

B: It isn’t?

C: (accent) No, the Daily Flyer on runs on days that end in “Y.”

B: Oh. Does Saturday (or day of the week the show is on) end in Y?

C: (accent) You don’t know? Do you not read?

B: Oh Mr. Smith, please don’t ask me that, please!

C: (accent) My deepest apologies, Miss Buxom – I mean no offense. Forgive my forwardness. I am usually more restrained, but I cannot help being fascinated by you, I confess.

B: (snifling) I’m sorry, Mr. Smith. Yes, it’s true I’m afraid – I cannot read a word! You see, my parents were merely humble freak show performers. My Father was a contortionist and my mother the Bearded Lady. They gave me a few lessons in between their acts, and mine as a human cannonball. But what few books we had were stolen from us by the dastardly villain who also stole our money, our trailer and all our possessions, leaving me destitute and my parent’s in the debtors prison. Oh Mr. Smith I know it’s wrong to say so, but I hate that evil, evil man who did this to us.

C: (accent) Do you remember his name, perchance?

B: I’ll remember his name until the day I die, Mr. Smith. He was the lion-tamer’s apprentice – Cedric Snead.

Cedric coughs and chokes at the sound of his own name.

B: Are you okay, Mr. Smith?

C: (accent) Yes, yes Miss Buxom, I… I… I was just taken aback by your story, utterly shocked and sorrowed that anyone should treat someone so fine as you in such an uncouth manner!

B: Oh that isn’t the worst of it, Mr. Smith. Not only did Cedric Snead rob my family clean he also made it clear that he had un-pure designs on me. Me! A simple girl with plain features and modest assets. His intentions, I fear, were far from honorable. But enough about that vulgar man, Mr. Smith. I think my vision is returning. Very soon I should be able to see your face, I think.

C: (no accent) No! (accent) Uh… Miss Buxom, you must protect your pretty eyes! My father was a surgeon who taught me something of medicine. If your eyes remain uncovered in this hot summer’s sun your vision will never return in its entirety. Quickly, you must cover your eyes with a binding.

B: Oh! Thank you Mr. Smith, I had no idea a binding was necessary.

Bessie rips off a (preset) loose sleeve from her dress and ties it around her eyes.

B: There, Mr. Smith. Now I cannot see a thing.

C: (no accent) Ah, excellent, Bessie. (accent) I mean, I mean, that’s very good, Miss Buxom.

B: Thank you, Mr. Smith. You’re most kind – though every once in a while you seem to burst out and say things in a voice that strangely familiar to one I wished I’d never heard a great many years ago…

C: (accent) Tell me, Miss Buxom, and forgive me for being so forward, but you have such a glowing complexion – just like a woman in love. Is there a man in your life?

B: (giggling) Oh, Mr. Smith, really? I’m just a simple girl with plain features and modest assets – I certainly don’t have a glowing complexion – and no, there’s no man in my life, much as I wish it were so.

C: (accent) Miss Buxom, there’s certainly a man in your life now!

B: Oh Mr. Smith how forward of you!

C: (accent) Forgive me, Miss Buxom, but I have been struck by you since the first moment I laid eyes on you, so many years, I mean minutes, ago. I want your… your tender virtues and delicate… manners. Oh Miss Buxom, please be mine!

B: Mr. Smith, I am amazed and utterly flattered. I can’t imagine what you see in me, but I have come to this place to find the comfort and security that comes with wholesome matrimonial bliss. Very well then, Mr. Smith, with no parents available for permission and counsel the decision is mine alone to make and make it I will. Mr. Smith, I humbly accept your offer. I am your betrothed.

C: (accent) Oh, Miss Buxom how wonderful. I fear I have no ring to give you to show proof of our bond, but will you give me your word? Your promise will be as strong a bond as any ring.

B: Yes, yes, yes Mr. Smith – Seymour. I give you my word as a pure, honest girl that I am hereby betrothed to you, and I will remain true to you no matter what may come our way.

C: (no accent) Yes! Ah! Hahahahahaha! Oh Bessie, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this moment to come. You are mine now!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The non-politics of Grinder Productions

It's an election year in Centre Wellington.

The polls don't open until October (and even then I think we vote by mail-in ballot) but already it seems that the campaign is in full swing. The signs are going up, the letters to the editor in the Wellington Advertiser are getting filled with rhetoric and Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, Greens, Christians, NIMBY's, special interst groups, lobbyists, bureaucrats, wanabes, hot-heads, lunatics, businesspeople, and councillors are gearing up for what promises to be a long and ugly campaign.

I have a sinking feeling that this election will bring out the "ugly" in a lot of people. We've got some polarising issues this time around, and as much as I'm saddened to say it, theatre may be one of them. I've been deeply hurt by some of what the misinformation already, and if it becomes one of the issues that catches fire in the campaign much of the work I and many others have been doing for the past ten years will go up in smoke.

That being said I want to make something crystal clear: Grinder Productions will NOT be taking a political stand in this election. We won't be using this blog as a prosyletising forum to endorse one particular candidate or deride another. I will delete any partisan comments, and I will not tolerate anyone politic-ing at our shows.

This is a key part of our company's ethics policy - we do not directly or indirectly support any political party, candidate or ideology.

I'm not looking forward to this election. Our last municipal election in 2006 was very nearly a blood sport, and there wasn't nearly as much vitriol flying around at this point in the campaign as there is now. Yes, I will study the issues and the candidate's stands on them very carefully, and yes, I will vote.

But if I have to spend the next four years convincing people all over again, one at a time, that my career and my way of life is not an expensive indulgence but rather one of the under-appreciated drivers of Centre Wellington's economy then we may have to re-think the non-politics of Grinder Productions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Playwright's Circle

The Playwright’s Circle at Grinder Productions

Grinder Productions is a live theatre company committed to producing theatre that dares to be different. What could be more different than a new piece of live theatre! As part of our commitment to advance both stagecraft and the Canadian canon of dramatic literature Grinder Productions is pleased to announce the creation of our playwright’s circle.

Our Goals

  • To give ordinary people a chance to tell their stories through theatre
  • To workshop, review and discuss new plays, providing substantial, constructive, honest feedback to the writer
  • To reward playwrights with the production of their plays

Our Process

There are three tiers of the playwright’s circle, each reflecting the increased levels of commitment to the writing process:

  • Short Drama: Members will create short scenes, two-person dialogues, comedic sketches, monologues, songs, movement pieces and other dramatic materials generally not longer than 10 minutes in length.
  • One-Acts: Members will outline, draft and develop a one-act play 20 – 50 minutes in length.
  • Full-length: Members will craft a full-length play, which will then be extensively reviewed and work-shopped by the circle, and often given a staged reading. The final product will be given a main stage production.

All members of the circle are encouraged to write to all three tiers to whatever degree they feel comfortable doing so.

I’d like to start this group by giving it a goal – creating material for the fall 2010 season at Grinder. This will require short drama (on a variety of topics) as well as one-act plays (content of the author’s choosing) and some full-length adaptations of classic literary works.

Eventually I’d like us to have meetings to review and discuss each other’s works, but to get the ball rolling I’d like to keep our conversations on line to make it easier on everyone’s schedules.


Email grinder@grinderproductions.org if you would like more information or to join this group.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Beware the blank blogger

It's actually Friday that I'm writing this, though it won't go up until Monday. The only reason I'm compiling my posts for the coming week now is because quite frankly that's all that I'm really capable of at the moment.

Fridays are usually the worst day of the week for me, with the previous five days of sleep deprivation culminating in a dense fog that often doesn't lift until around 2pm on Sunday. This week has been compounded by a couple of relatively late nights and the horrifying reality that we can't sleep in either Saturday or Sunday of this week, so another seven (no, I lie - eight - we're busy next Saturday too) days stretch out before us, laughing like a madman at our misfortune.

So with the choice of getting nothing done and falling even further behind I've decided to cross one thing off of next week's list, in the hopes that I can move one of my overdue items to Monday, when hopefully I will be more coherent...

Until then, I'll keep on blankly blogging away my blues.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Roughing It Sampler - Your comments welcome!

Time: The Present

Place: A run-down shack in the woods of Northern Ontario

At first glance the cabin is exactly like the one pictured in the brochure from Shady Glen’s Summer Camping Getaways; rustic, cozy and decidedly inhabitable, nestled amongst the blue spruce on the shores of your very own private lake! But upon closer inspection the real picture becomes clear: about a quarter mile up from the shore, on the top of a ridge lies a rotting pile of lumber that was once, at its best, no more than an overnight cabin on a trapper’s line. The windows are broken, there’s a hole in the door and when it rains the water pours in from the many holes in the roof.

The entire action of the play takes place in front of the cabin. There’s a porch, a couple of old lawn chairs, a rotting picnic table, a fire pit and an outhouse. The lake is off SR, and just off SL is a spring-fed stream. Just behind the cabin is a seemingly impenetrable wall of old-growth forest.

At rise, it is late morning on a beautiful summer’s day, very hot out – just hot enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. After a moment to establish the scene a panting sound is heard, growing louder and louder. Rowan emerges from SR, where she has just climbed to the top of a steep ridge.

Rowan is a 40-something mother of two boys (both now grown) and a daughter (who is now 15). About a dozen years ago she kicked her lazy, philandering husband out the door, nailed him for alimony, went back to school and re-trained to be an accountant. Starting out in an entry-level position in a minor firm she’s since become a managing partner, aiding her company in what can only be described as a meteoric rise to the top of the financial services industry and earning herself some generous bonuses along the way. Thanks to her drive and determination she’s done quite well, all things considered, but the cost of raising three kids has meant that financial freedom is still another few years off.

Rowan: It’s here! I made it! I finally made it! I finally made…

(She stops mid-sentence as she sees the condition of the cabin.)

Rowan: Oh shit.

(She pulls a crumpled brochure out of her pocket, comparing the picture on it to the cabin itself. As she does so Athena enters, also from SR.)

Athena is Rowan’s daughter. While she’s not a “typical” teenager she does have a lot in common with them. She’s quite attractive and in perfectly reasonable physical condition, yet obsesses about her looks and her weight almost as much as she obsesses about boys – especially the fact that she does not, for all her charms, yet have a boyfriend. She grew up without a father and at times, she feels, without a mother, yet there isn’t that bitter animosity that poisons so many mother-child relationships. Athena recognizes that Rowan’s success was in no small part due to the inspiration she derived from needing to provide for her children, and for that she’s earned Athena’s grudging respect. However, Athena is still her own person and believes her mother has no rights over her any more.

Athena: Oh shit.

Rowan: Watch your mouth dear.

Athena: Is that supposed to be the cabin?

Rowan: I think so.

Athena: Oh shit.

Rowan: It kind of looks like the picture in the brochure.

Athena: Yeah, a little bit, I guess. All the trees are a lot smaller. What’s that number 62 in the corner of the picture mean?

Rowan: I thought that meant it was cabin number 62. I think it means this picture was taken in 62. 1962. This picture is over 40 years old.

Athena: It looks old in the picture. This crap-hole must be older than Grandma!

Rowan: I said watch your mouth dear! Where is Mom?

Athena: I thought she was right behind me?

(Rowan and Athena go over to the top of the ridge and peer down, trying to see if they can see her).

Rowan: Mom? Mom? Where are you?

Athena: Grandma? She was right behind me.

Rowan: I don’t see her anywhere. Oh my God I hope she hasn’t fallen.

Athena: She wouldn’t.

Rowan: She might. She’s not very out-doors-y. Why did I ever think a weekend in the woods would be a good idea?

Athena: (calling) Grandma? Grandma? Where are you? Are you okay?

Rowan: (calling) Mom? Mom?

In the meantime Maeve has appeared from SL. She’s an older lady, definitely into her 60’s, but still quite spry, not moving too quickly but not moving with much difficulty either. While the other two entered panting and sweating heavily and carrying nothing she has entered just a little winded, carrying her purse and a small overnight bag. She looks quizzically and Rowan and Athena.

Maeve: Yes, dear?

(Rowan and Athena shriek and turn)

Rowan: Mom! Mom you scared the wits out of us? How did you… I mean we were…

Athena: How did you make it up here before us? Can you like fly or something?

Maeve: (chuckling) No, lassie, I’m afraid I can’t fly. All I did was walk up the path.

Rowan: Path?

Maeve: Yes dear it runs right up the side of this ridge. I saw it while we were coming in on the boat and you two ran off before I could tell you about it. It just circles around a bit and you just have to be careful crossing that old fallen log that goes over the stream just there now.

Athena: I don’t believe this. Grandma, look at the cabin. It looks like we’ve been ripped off!

Maeve: Oh my. Oh my oh my. I don’t think that looks much like the cabin in the picture.

Rowan: The picture was taken in 1962. And we were taken for a bunch of city-slickers.

Athena: You mean you were, Mom. Why couldn’t we just go and visit Grandma for the weekend and stay at her place instead of you dragging us all out here to the middle of nowhere?

Rowan: I’m sorry, Athena. Sorry Mom. I just wanted us to get away together someplace nice for the weekend. A girls-only retreat.

Maeve: It’s all right dear. It’s still early. We can head back to Emsdale and get a room at that little motel where we had breakfast. I’ll bet there’s a lot of shopping and sight-seeing we can do up here this weekend, we’ll just have to ask someone.

Rowan: You’re right, Mom. You two rest here, and I’ll go back down and get Glen stopped before he brings too much of our stuff up here.

Maeve: Oh dear, that’s right! He won’t be bringing anything up. He left.

Rowan: What?

Maeve: He left. All your bags are sitting on the dock. I don’t think he had any intention of bringing them up here in the first place.

Athena: But he’s supposed to! We’re girls!

Maeve: He was such a nice young man. He said he didn’t think he’d be back until the pick-up time, though. Apparently he’s got a lot of fishermen in the bush up here and it’s all he can do to get them all in and out of the bush on time. I brought my own bag up. What you two need such monstrous suitcases for is beyond me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Helium Articles

Yesterday I featured my How-to Guides on Helium. Today, I'd like to direct you to a few regular articles of mine that you might find interesting:

Feedback is always welcome, and Helium is always looking for new writers. Want to join? Just send me an email at grinder@grinderproductions.org and I'll send you an invite!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How To...

Helium's newest experiment are "How-to Guides." Thankfully there are some theatre-related titles, and the powers-that-be have deigned that I am a writer of sufficient vim and vigour to be a member of this exclusive community within the site. While I'm working shooting for a new guide every week here are the ones I've created so far:
Each guide contains simple-yet-comprehensive steps to complete each of the tasks, as well a host of additional content: a "tools needed" list, tips and warnings, related articles, related YouTube videos and more. You can also rate the guide as helpful (or not!), leave comments, and even ask me a question.

Please take a moment to check out one or more of these guides out, and let me know what you think of them.

Thanks!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chapter 4 - Standby, Mackenzie

Mackenzie arrived at the theatre at 7am for the second day of rehearsals. Now 7am is an ungodly hour for theatre night-owls used to 8pm curtains. For actors and directors making a 10am rehearsal call time is being incredibly punctual, and the fact that stage managers start their days bright and early at 9:30 a bit of a curiosity to say the least.
But Mackenzie had work to do. Sure enough Big Cheese had been right – Steven and Juan had hit the bar after three hours of set building yesterday and had were nowhere to be found. Mackenzie had spent a few hours in hunting for items in the props shop, dumping items on stage as she found them. She had planned on getting there early this morning to set everything up and make sure she had “show-quality props” for everything that she possibly could.
The door to the theatre was locked, but through the window Mackenzie spied an extension cord running across the floor, and heard the faint roar of the vacuum cleaner once again. She rapped loudly on the door, and Bret let her in.
“Well somebody’s an eager-beaver this morning!”
“I have props to set up.”
“You do, do you?” Bret grinned surreptitiously.
“What?”
Mackenzie ran into the theatre and through the doors into the auditorium. Her props were all there onstage all right, but instead of just being in a heap they were arranged neatly on the set and on the props tables. Where dirty stand-ins and quickly-gathered items had been the night before there were now actual props. The shelf where the cupboard was supposed to go now held matching dishes, cups and glassware. There was matching cutlery on the table where there would eventually be a drawer. Freshly split firewood was stacked beside an actual woodstove that Mackenzie was sure hadn’t been in the props room or the shop. Ditto for the rustic kitchen table and chairs. There was even a gingham tablecloth and floral centre-piece.
“What the *&^%! Bret – who – but the guys were – did you do this?”
“Well it wasn’t the theatre fairies!”
In a sudden moment of unrestrained joy Mackenzie found the courage to throw her arms around Bret and kiss him ever so quickly on the lips before burying her head in his shoulder.
“Oh thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!”
“Anything for a rookie.”
“But how did you… I mean, I didn’t have half this much stuff here last night. And the woodstove? Where did that come from? And why? Why would you do such a wonderful thing for me?”
“You ask too many questions, Macky. And you’re not a bad props girl, for a rookie. But this – this is what Frank had in mind.”
“But he didn’t give me a deadline – he just said he wanted this stuff as soon as possible.”
“And by that he meant that he wanted it yesterday. He would have tore a strip off of you if that was all you had managed to find. You want a cup of coffee?”
Bret led the still shell-shocked Mackenzie out to the lobby, where the smell of Marlene’s pet dark roast was already emanating from the concession area. He poured Mackenzie a generous cup, and then one for himself, and they sat down in the plush chairs usually reserved for executive patrons on opening nights.
“Macky, you’re a good kid.”
“And you’re still 21.”
“And you don’t know the first thing about theatre. Do you know what Frank expects you to have ready for today?”
“Duh – the props.”
“The costumes.”
“What?”
“You will need to take the actor’s measurements today, something Frank will tell you should have been done at the read-through. He’s used to having a preliminary costume fitting by Day 2 of rehearsals, so he’ll realize today that costumes are behind schedule. Since Steven and Juan don’t know the first thing about costumes you’ll have to find as much stuff as you can in the costume shop and go to it. Push Frank to give you as much information as possible on what he’s looking for – you’re not a costume designer, so don’t get fancy – just give him whatever he wants. If you need to use any of the actor’s personal items – even shoes – that’s a union thing that you’ll have to check your CTA about. Also make sure to tell the actors they have a fitting tomorrow so that they wear underwear. By Friday you’ll want to have the costumes done and ready to go, because you won’t have time to deal with them next week.”
Once again Mackenzie was dumbfounded.
“Bret, how the heck do you know all this stuff? I thought you were the janitor.”
“I am the janitor. And as you seem to keep having to remind me I’m also 21.”
“So…?”
“So I know a thing or two about theatre. I don’t want to talk about it. I helped you this morning because you are a really nice, sweet girl, who’s totally clueless about what she’s gotten herself into.”
Bret got up to leave.
“Bret, what is Frank expecting me to have ready for him tomorrow?”
“The sound track. I’ll help you do with that after rehearsals are over tonight.”