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Friday, October 28, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
While this wasn't the largest or most complex show I've ever done it was a very rewarding project to work on. Sadly, I never did quite reach that "buzz" that I was hoping to attain at the outset of the process - too many things just didn't go our way for that to happen. Despite this, I don't feel embittered or wanting this Monday morning - it was a good show, and we did a good job with it. I proved to myself that you can survive a heart attack and go on to direct a decent play. I'd say that alone is accomplishment enough.
Now the hard work begins. Now we begin preparations in earnest (though they've been going on quietly for some time already) for The 18 Carat Bumpkin. I'm really looking forward to this project, but for different reasons than I was for Life and Death. That show was all about the content of the project - bringing work to the stage, including some of my own, that I wouldn't normally get to do. 18 Carat on the other hand is in the public domain - I or anyone else could bring this show to the stage at any time. Instead of being excited about the content of this show, I'm excited about the experience that it will be for the actors and the audience.
The 18 Carat Bumpkin will be unlike anything most people have ever seen before. Lillian Mortimer is not a well-known playwright - I can't think of anyone off the top of my head that she's similar to in style and tone. I think this play will be different things to different people - some will call it a comedy, some will call it a mystery-suspense, and others will call it a love story. It's all those things, and so much more. There's slapstick humour, family values, some great 1920's music - and all of it wrapped up in an honest sense of warmth and fun - it will be like going over to your whackiest friend's house for a dinner party.
I could go on and on about this play, but instead of talking about it I really should get to work on in. The set is built, but there's still so much more work to be done. And yes, we are still looking for people, onstage and off, so if you're interested in being a part of it, please let me know.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
In the past this would have been the sort of thing that would have devastated me - how can I make this material work for everyone involved? I would have spent days wracking my brain for some sort of rationalization, and probably would have come up short. In all likelihood I would have made the problem worse.
Instead I simply asked the cast to take a leap of faith, and trust that between the strengths inherent in the script, my directorial eye, and their abilities as actors that we would prevail. I wouldn't have done that even a few years ago. I wouldn't have taken that leap of faith myself.
I couldn't promise the cast that we would be successful - in fact I pointed out that if my own past success and failure is any indication there's absolutely no correlation between what shows we feel are worthy of success and which shows ultimately worm their way into audience's hearts.
I'd be lying if I said I'm exactly where I want to be with this show - I haven't yet felt that buzz, and I fear that my craving for it may go unfulfilled this time around - too many people have backed out on their commitments. I haven't been able to do everying I wanted with it. I've made some compromises (some of which have actually worked out for the best). I've made some mistakes. And yes, at times this show has made me mad.
The collection of plays that make up this production of Life and Death ends on an ultimately uplifting tone - there occurs a salvation of sorts, if you will. But getting there means going on a maniacal quest to confont your deepest, darkest demons, and defeating them one by one. Last night we confronted one of those demons, and it prevailed. But with the next rehearsal comes round two, and I have faith in myself, in the play and in the cast that together we'll deliver the knock-out blow.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
We got a lot accomplished this past weekend on the organizational front - moved some materials, made some improvements to the livestock feeding arrangements, and put a major dent in the ongoing efforts to simplify life around the house. So much for sitting down and taking it easy.
Now that I'm back into the weekly grind (even if it's only a short week) I've got to see if I can translate at least some of that productivity and creative empowerment into substantive improvements on the professional front. Over the past few weeks I've found myself coasting a little in rehearsals, working from rote instead from inspiration, and while the creative writing seems to be doing okay the non-creative aspect of my writing is in a certifiable rut - even this blog has seen better days.
Patience is a virtue, and Rome wasn't built in a day. I'm on a lifelong journey to improve my professional self, and sometimes that means taking things one laborious step at a time. My "to-do" list for the month sits beside me, pristine and unspoiled, free of the horizontal lines that say "mission accomplished."
More to follow later this week. I feel another post coming on about Life and Death, and perhaps one about 18 Carat as well. I also think I have a title for my new play, and I'd like to talk a bit about that too. But I'm getting ahead of myself a bit here - today's task is simply to make some progress by taking things one step at a time.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A small step, perhaps, but an important one for me, as I soldier on in my quest for creative renewal. To be honest I was exhausted last night - between the early morning wake-up (plus the light sleep the night before), a day of heavy farm work, four hours of production work, and the oppressive heat, I had to hold onto the side of the barn just to stay upright. Despite this I think we had one of our better rehearsals.
Such is the lifeblood of theatre.
But I can't rest on my laurels, or congratulate myself on a job well done - at least not yet. A good base like this must be built upon, improved upon, and the opportunity must not be missed. Seize the moment. Suck less. But how?
Certainly my preparations for the next rehearsal are part of it - I must take some time to sit down and really think about what I would like that rehearsal to accomplish (and the one after that, for that matter). But I usually do that without being consciously aware of it anyways and besides, we're now back to the shows that I've written, so I'm back on familiar turf - there's only so much a director can do to get inside a playwright's head.
I could pour the energy into organization - I'm slowly cleaning up and re-arranging all my scene stock, props, costumes, lighting/sound equipment and stage management supplies, as well as digitizing and sorting all paper and media inventory (I seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff). But that's an ongoing project, one better suited to brain-dead Friday afternoons and frigid winter nights than today, when the creative juices are flowing so vigorously.
I think the big winner will be the new play that I'm working on - an as-yet-unnamed post-apocalyptic action-adventure-romance. I had planned on working on it today anyways, but already I've had a brainwave that will make my time with it all the more productive. While this play won't be hitting the boards any time soon I hope it will eventually turn out to be the best play I've ever written, and in my attempt not to suck when it comes to making theatre a new personal best would most definitely be a step in the right direction.
Monday, July 11, 2011
You drive away assuming that you'll make it back somehow
Life and death, life and death a whisper in the air...
- John Gray, from the musical 18 Wheels
It seems that I've finally figured out where I'd heard the phrase "Life and Death" before. I was the ASM on this irrverernt masterpiece of Canadian musical theatre back in the 90's. It's a production that features an actual semi truck on stage (or at least we made it look like it was a real truck) and while it's not the deepest show I've ever done (it's written entirely in rhyming couplets) it is one of my fonder memories of my time in the rat race. It was a show that brought out some of the better skills in me (and it was around this time that I earned my "Grinder" moniker, if I'm not mistaken), and while I certainly must have made many, many mistakes and disappointed a lot of people (as I routinely surmised from the way I was treated and talked about at that point in my life) nobody could have argued on closing night that we hadn't together done something amazing.
That was one of the first shows where I really learned what it means to love theatre.
A dozen or so years later and I'm starting to wonder if things have come full circle. I've certainly come a long way, and there have been many shows, good and bad, since that time. Our production of Life and Death is a lot different than Gray's spectacular, but for me it feels much the same. I'm on familiar ground. I know this territory. I feel like I can bring something special to this project. It's not just another show. I'm sure that I will make some mistakes, and I'm not counting my chickens just yet, but I've got a feeling that this is going to be something good.
It's not going to be for everyone - there's plenty of coarse language, violence, adult situations, and yeah, a few people get shot. But mature content doesn't bother me, and if it doesn't bother you I think you'll enjoy this.
Life and Death goes up for two performances only - Saturday August 27th at 2pm and 8pm at the Ennotville Library. Tickets are $15 each, and are available from any cast member, at the door, or by calling 519-780-7593. Seating is limited.
Hope to see you there.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
The effect is, in this case, faith. No, I haven't found God (or organized religion - many people confuse the two). I haven't found anything new per se, but I do get the feeling that I'm beginning to rediscover a part of myself that has been lost for some time, a part of myself that comes from making great theatre.
I'm psyched for rehearsal this evening, despite being considerably tired. Maybe because we'll have everyone we need there tonight (someone better knock some wood). Maybe it's because we're moving into the second half of the play tonight, towards the plays that are perhaps darker in nature that those in Act 1, but that are ultimately more hopeful. Maybe it's the music, as I finally see another layer of commentary being added to the show's mosaic. Maybe it's something else.
It's been a while since I've felt that buzz that I get at the end of a great rehearsal. Every night it's been getting closer and closer. Hopefully tonight it will be there. Until then, I have to have faith that the moment is coming, that point where everything crystallizes, and turns into something amazing.
A theatre of faith - who knew?
Thursday, June 30, 2011
I no longer find it surprising, or even particularly upsetting, when someone, male or female, drops out of a show. It's not the crisis that it used to be - I don't lose sleep over it anymore. Another director might see losing a cast member as a unique and unthinkable catastrophe, but I've almost come to expect it. It's not that I'm confident of finding other actors to replace the ones I've lost - trust me, the catastrophe is quite real and the chances of not finding someone are quite real too - but I no longer get depressed about it. I no longer cease to function. I keep going, managing through the crisis, as someone once said, instead of letting the crisis manage me.
I have had slightly more luck finding replacements lately - maybe because I'm not doing quite so many shows the available talent pool is a little bit deeper. And people's excuses for dropping out seem to be improving too - I can't really fault someone who has a legitimate personal, family or work-related issue, especially when it's been brought about by factors that are beyond their control. But the problem still remains, the curse remains alive and strong.
So my wrath isn't as venemous as it used to be. I don't waste my time getting angry anymore, I just sigh to myself and get on with the search for a replacement. I've learned to live with my curse, to succeed in spite of it. This cowboy is back in his saddle, and he's here to stay.
And on that note, if you're looking to do a show this summer or fall, please get in touch with me - I probably have a great role waiting for you!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The time has come to write again. Time to make a new beginning, a fresh start. So much has changed in my life since I began blogging - I've got a home to call my own, set in picturesque surroundings, and I'm married to the most wonderful woman the world has ever known. Recently I've also become student-debt free (yay!), and suffered a mild heart attack (damn).
Time for a fresh start. I don't know when I'll post, or what I'll post - lots of ideas are running through my head. I'll still be sure to blog about what's going on at Grinder, but I hope that from now on my posts will be more philosophical than commercial (though there will still be commercial posts). I want this blog to be an extension of my creative self, not my entrepreneurial self, a personal improvement and empowerment tool rather than a clumsy piece of marketing minutiae.
It's another very early morning on the farm - the mist is still rising from the grass. A long day stretches before me. Another chance to make a fresh start.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
It's been a while since I've done a show - months - which for me is an eternity. It's so great to be back to the cut-and-thrust of creative collaboration, and even greater to be working on this very special project.
This is a co-production between Grinder productions and up-and-coming local playwright Vince Masson, who's bringing his work to the stage for the very first time.
The show is called Crime and Passion, and it is actually a collection of five 1-act plays, three by Vince and two by yours truly. It will be performed March 26th at 2pm and 8pm at the Ennotville Library.
The first half of the show, Crime, revolves around illicit activities.
“I enjoy the idea of regular people getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances, especially when it pertains to crime,” Vince says. “Stories where straight-laced, regular people can become entangled in criminal activity is something I’ve explored heavily in these plays, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product come to life.”
Being a lover, not a figher, my plays form the Passion half of the production.
I’m very excited about all these shows, and to be collaborating with Vince to bring his plays to the stage. It’s not every day you get to introduce a new playwright’s works to the world.Please be advised, some of the plays contain coarse language, stage violence and mildly suggestive humour, so all potential actors should be comfortable with this, and should be at least 16 years of age or older.
All tickets are $15 each, and seating is limited. For more info or to get tickets to the show please call 519-780-7593 or talk to any cast member. And please check back next week, when I hope to have some rehearsal photos to share with you.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Grinder Productions, in collaboration with up-and-coming local playwright Vince Masson is pleased to present Crime and Passion, a collection of 5 one-act plays on Saturday, March 26th at 2pm and 8pm at the Ennotville Library. Come on out and be a part of a new writer's world premiere!
Warning: These plays contain some coarse language and mature humour. Viewer discretion is advised.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Grinder Productions is working in collaboration with up-and-coming local playwright Vince Masson to bring his plays to the stage for the very first time. Masson, along with Grinder’s Creative and Executive Director Eric Goudie will be holding open auditions on Sunday, January 16th at 7pm at the Elora Centre for the Arts.
The show being cast is called Crime and Passion, and is actually a collection of five 1-act plays, three by Masson and two by Goudie. It will be performed March 26th at 2pm and 8pm at the Ennotville Library.
Masson’s plays form the first half of the show, and all revolve around illicit activities.
“I enjoy the idea of regular people getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances, especially when it pertains to crime,” says Masson. “Stories where straight-laced, regular people can become entangled in criminal activity is something I’ve explored heavily in these plays, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product come to life.”
Goudie takes over for the second half of the show, with a pair of plays about passion.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” Goudie says, “and I’m very excited to be collaborating with Vince to bring these shows to the stage. It’s not every day you get to introduce a new playwright’s works to the world.”
This is a cold read audition, so no preparation is necessary, nor is any previous acting experience. Some of the plays contain coarse language, stage violence and mildly suggestive humour, so all potential actors should be comfortable with this, and should be at least 16 years of age or older.
In addition to actors there is also a need for people to help out behind the scenes – once again no previous experience is necessary.
For more information about these auditions or to get tickets to the show please call 519-780-7593 or e-mail email@example.com.