Tag Archives: education

Thoughts, (10 Days Before London) 

11 Oct

Um,  I dunno if you know it (International Friends), but there’s this whole thing where Americans wishing to look less ridiculous (or wanting to more easily blend in) will often pretend to be Canadians , whilst visiting abroad. It’s not exactly like we’re ashamed of being “American,” it’s that we are embarrassed by the general casting-type. 
…Look,  I have to say that by and large,  we earn it. Having been abroad before, I was never more aware of our loud,  braying, overly-enthusiastic,  self- entitlement than quietly sitting in corners of tubes and restaurants and buses…watching us being giant low-class dicks,  en mass. We dress horribly.  We push to run every room and tourist guiding,  we chew gum in ancient cathedrals, scream at one another across silent museum lobbies, we complain about food portions, bitch about the size of the showers, and how everyone doesn’t bathe twice a day,  and strangely like to infringe on , (and advertise),  our private business to any and everyone who doesn’t (and won’t ever care)…cuz that shit is embarrassing. 

…But then Brexit happened,  and I was all,  “Woa,  for once we aren’t the biggest idiots”

…But then this election happened and now I’m all, ” Well, fuck. I gotta pretend to be British-Columbian from Vancouver,  again.”

The deal is: I don’t talk political shit on my Facebook, I’m sure as hell not gonna want to “live,”  on a tube platform with a random Italian. (Let’s be real,  the English don’t talk in tubes.) 

…Though,  to be off the International Shit-List,  they might just break precedent.And the French always have hated us (and always will), because of our hard-“R’s,” designer-knock-offs, and wearing T-shirts with vacation locations on them. 

Americans are like the class clowns of the world. Right now: we are specializing in scaring the shit out of everyone–even ourselves. And frankly,  I am not comfortable being a “representative abroad. ”

I’m not super proud of us right now. And I don’t wanna talk about it. Cuz the world I come back to, (the week of the election), scares the living shit out of me.  If I could,  I’d fucking just stay there.

…And I would always have said that. (But would have literally never meant it, more.) Than right now

…And you know what?  That kinda sucks. 

 …Because, though I unreasonably love Britain like it is in my blood (cuz it is)… I have great grandfathers who fled from those bitches,  (on the Irish and Pilgrim side.) Like:legit. I’ve an ancestor who signed the Mayflower Compact, and we’ve fought in every single American war.INCLUDING against the Brits. 

I *want* to be proud. 

…But…

…As I prepare to cross the pond for a place I adore and identify with (prob’ly because it is in my blood) …and even though I really, really, REALLY, don’t want to get political…I just don’t know how I’ll be able to prevent it. 

I don’t know what to say. 

I don’t know how to excuse us.
…Because, I know a LOT of very, very very smart people. 

…And they don’t seem to either. 

And on an International level:  on planes,  busses, trains and week-long workshops… I dunno how the hell I’m gonna duck or explain it. 

…And with ALL the weird shit on my brain right now…ten days before I leave to study abroad…why is THAT the main thing on my freak-out list?

~D

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So Many Things

3 Oct

Sometimes… I don’t write much while working on a show. Often that is code for other things…like the kind of experience I’d rather have disappear into the ether for all of time. Sometimes it’s just because I’m too damn busy and can’t be bothered. And sometimes it’s because I’m living the moment fully and will set time aside later to reflect on it. 
This show was halfway parts two and three. 

Am very thankful to have done a thoroughly joyful, silly show with a lot of my dearest friends. We opened a season, slaughtered the season ticket sell projections, and while it was never meant to be Shakespeare, we played hard, enjoyed the fuck out of one another, and learned lots. 

…Having worked with the director before in “Narnia,” I’d no idea what to expect of the process, sans 30,000 children in creature makeup… But knowing the “woman,” I figured we were in solid hands. Finding a new favorite Director out of the gig was bonus-town…because she knows her comedic beats like a mutherfucking pro (not that I doubted her, it’s just not my own particular field and difficult to judge when in beaver makeup.) And “why” she quickly became a favorite is due one part on her persona and equal on her run-of-the-room.

My favorite directors trust their cast to do the job they were hired to do. We have different job titles because we have different jobs. Having worked under every variety of Director from vice-grip Dictators, to absent cluelessness… I’ve come to the conclusion that my preference neither ignore you nor manhandle you. They trust you. They give you guidence, then let you take the leash. They allow you to explore, create, make mistakes…learn. And then, they modulate. They study your choices and adjust. They understand what your intent is and marry it to the theme. They allow freedom of expression, but are so studious on the work that they can give you a note like, “lift her on this line instead of that.”and the next night, that beat is magically solved, beautiful, and perfect. 

Collaboration is king in theatre. It is the solvent to awkward “real life” relationships I seem to suck at. Finding a fellow artist who speaks my same language, I am always as surprised and delighted as if I heard my mother-tongue in deepest Africa. Finding one in a friend I’ve known for some time in a variety of ways, makes me feel both a little dickish and also winning. It isn’t that there is doubt. It is that people need their moment and roles to shine. And I’m a distrustful bastard by nature. So: even more fight. 

…Long and short of it being: “Hey, J.Y… You’re a good fucking teacher, can’t wait for the next time.” 

Next: You know when you have a real talk with a person you only “casually” know…like through another friend? And you know how that can be awkward as hell, because “people” and you go together in none of the ways? But then you end up having this super long artistic joygasm conversation that kinda creatively blows your mind? Had one of this weekend. Which then launched me into closing and strike and presenting at an awards ceremony… On zero sleep-juice, but all the artistic-yay…which is my main purpose on earth to obtain…meaning: I gained a legitimate real life, serious new theatre family-friend, and am exhausted today. 

Totally worth it. 

…These past two months of “crazy”: totally worth it. 

…Sharing a dressingroom exclusively with Cecil for an entire run: bliss. 

…Learning the subtle command of a friend’s artsistic influence over yours: educationally rewarding. 

…Being paid to play and work with the family you’ve hand-picked: fucking priceless. 

Hot damn, I’m lucky. 

(And I know it.) 

~D

Studification

24 Nov

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I’m studying a lot.

…Like over 100 pages into a notebook absolutely crammed, notated and highlighted within an inch of its life.

And I’m having a total wigging-out blast.

…Cuz “learning” is the all-the-time “sexy.” Just ask Einstein. Dude was a stone cold theory-flinging fox.

…Graham Bell gave some good brain too…

…But the best part about learning stuff is when you realize that the active process of doing it, is like the original version of the internet. In your head.

…Cuz “learning” is such a fucking black-hole process. You start out with a book on Picasso, and come up with a Google history, end-of-night, including everything from “cows of Peru,” “stained glass windows,” “famous nun affairs,” “African art influences,” “french prositution laws,” “Einstein theories,” “plastic arts,” “Francisco Franco,” “French Rivera,” “communist vs socialist,” “famous maquettes,” and “neo-expressionism” to…”Harlequin rose period,” and “Spanish civil war.”

The brain, when fed a suggestion of curiosity, goes on a total drunken bender for insta-knowledge as addendum to this other thing you’re actually trying to retain and process… until your Chrome has like 68 tabs open for cross referencing, your hand is getting writers cramp, you’ve reloaded the printer paper twice, and have totally run out of tape.

…It’s a good problem to have. When you like learning. Which I do. Only when you do it at this level of focus, it’s pretty fucking exhausting…making the eyes burn from bouncing back and forth, paper to screen…and forgetting to eat and drink things, cuz you were busy for like ten hours trying to find this one thing.

…But I digress.

…Not as much as the “alternate use for pickle juice” search (you’re welcome), or “scary Steven hawking quotes” (hey’ if I have to freak out, you have to freak out)…but still…

…It’s a thing.

And it’s been super fun.

…But I’m really tired now. and my contacts feel like sandpaper.

…So I guess that leaves this other stack of clippings for tomorrow.

…Except now I sorta wanna go Google Picasso. As he was totally not my actual topic of study at all…

~D

Link

The Writer Callus

22 Jul

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I miss school.

…Not the institution, you realize…the study that goes with it.

I miss reading and writing endless essays. I miss the notebooks, chicken scratched thoughts scribbled and outlined through a text until it comes out looking like a theatre script, mid-rehearsal. I miss the debates over themes and content. I miss mining all the layers that literature can hold in simple sentences printed on a page.

As an adult, all my reading and study has derived from pleasure, not pressure. I take in the books I know like the back of my hand, because I love them…I’ll occasionally read a light fiction easy-read because it was once recommended. But when I have no class to go to, no paper to write, no actual “reason” to dig into something like a slim novella of poetry and really break down what in the hell they mean…I just don’t. I’ll read it (maybe) and take what I want, what I took at first glance from it, then move along. But there is a loss in doing that…the “study” of writing as an art. Beyond plot.

…I miss that.

And so, I’ve taken the cue from m’next show, as Rita, to put myself through the paces these next two months. Apart from studying the script and character, I’ve a whole load of additional works to consume…pieces, and authors, and works of art which are sited within the script. I’ve charged myself to retrace Rita’s footsteps…to follow her path of discovery, with some of my own.

…It’s been two days at work, filling the down time with googling, and printing, cutting and taping, collecting reading lists and quotations and poems and paintings, and massing them into a black Piccadilly notebook, to be translated and studied later. Every literary reference, every author, every theme listed out in neat lines, a mass of poems printed, and liner notes begun. Of the three hours wherein not so much as a phone call rang through the office today, I secured three monologues (with attending dialogue) into my brain, and wrote themes on twelve poems from Dylan Thomas, William Blake, Henrik Ibsen, Roger McGough, & Oscar Wilde.

…And in the words of Rita herself, “It was FUCKING FANTASTIC!”

My hand written scribbles cover pages and pages, the side of my hand marked with lead from adding side notes to theme ideas, and that callus…my old friend on the rest of my middle finger, has re-dented in supplication from the constant pressure of a pencil.

I am back! That nerd-kid who would spend hours, over-writing by three or more pages, every essay she had ever been charged to write out. The kid who, (because of necessity) was forced to become a pretty decent editor, getting to the meat of the matter, tapping into the veins of a piece or a character…which would become that essential theatre tool I’d carry with me, for ever and ever. That kid who eats up language styles and word choices like its ice cream, who’d rather get lost in languidly profuse imagery, in a specific smell explained in words, in a world entirely fictional yet familiar, than almost anything else.

My brain is hungry as Rita’s, and I’m so thankful to have this extra time, this extended rehearsal period, to really dig in and build her piece by piece, poem by poem, book by book. In case you’d like to knock along with me a bit…here’s today’s list:

* And Death Shall Have No Dominion – Thomas
* The Sick Rose – Blake
* Gone – Ibsen
* You and I – McGough
* Let Me Die A Young Man’s Death – McGough
* Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Thomas
* Survivor – McGough
* The Blossom – Blake
* The Clod And The Pebble – Blake
* The Grave Of Shelley – Wilde
* In The Picture Gallery – Ibsen
* The Survivors – Ibsen

…Lots more to come.

*joy!*

~D

Educating Me

14 Jun

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One of the longest casting waits, for a most wanted role, has come to an end. Gone: the shallow breaths, the gut-spinning angst, and all the doubting emo feelings that go with it.

One call on a Saturday, and I’m cured.

“Educating Rita” is a hell of a gig, all on its own. I know it like a soul mate, it fits like a glove, yet the challenges it’ll bring me and the things I will learn from it from rehearsal through performance, excites me to unknown end.

…Add to that, a Director who I’ve never worked with and know by her results and reputation will work my ass off in all the best ways…add to that an SM who is a family love, very dear to my heart…add to that a “39 Steps,” and “Office Hours” bud with killer comedy and so-easy-to-bounce-off-of chemistry, its almost ridiculous…and you have the biggest fucking cherry-topped joyride of blood, sweat, tears and hard work ahead of us that I can hardly contain myself.

…Only, I have to.

At least for a little while.

…Early casting was primarily for line learning and month-long Director sabbatical-taking. A few meets in July, but nothing in earnest, till August.

…Leaving me time to calm the fuck down, and give those twisted-ass “Maids” my full and undivided attention.

A happy, happy actor, now resides behind door number B1. Quite possibly the luckiest in town 🙂

~D

Manic, Twisted, & Sexy

28 May

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Today, I have three less personalities to concentrate on, still leaving me with a sizable deck yet to be sorted.

…A great new program at the UWT has been attempting to launch a theatre works interest, not only to the student body but local community as well.  Some of it’s leading professors have brought in a handful of actors to work both with the student playwrights and faculty, to do read performances with talk-backs to get the ball rolling, and I’ve been supremely lucky to be amongst those handful. 

I LOVE contributing in my own backyard…my own city…blocks away from my little home.  I love that they are eager to bring more arts to the area, use it’s local artists as resources, engage audiences made of faculty and students and community, in talk-backs about social issues, politics, art, and literature.  I love being part of a grass-roots movement, and that as more and more educational systems are phasing OUT the arts in their schools, we have a very esteemed University staff stating, “No!  In fact, we don’t have ENOUGH!” 

…How awesome is THAT?!

(I know, right?)

…Which is WHY I now have three less contributors to my psyche, in as much as last night we finished another such read, with a wonderfully alert house-full, engaged in the process, the structure, and the event as a whole. A fine study on mental illness and addiction and the affects they leave in their wake. I had a hell of a lot of fun as the bipolar, self-drug-prescribing, alcoholic root of it all, playing with tight text, exercising a little of my own demons, and having an exhausting wale of a time. These are the kind of work outs, (when married with a dream cast of close buds), when you really getta blow it all out there with full conviction, knowing full-well you are supporting, and are supported by, the best.

It only gets better than this, when it’s up on it’s feet and in full performance…

…Which, speaking of, leads us to the next part of the personality deck: A twisted little tale of sisterly sexual obsession and dark deeds.

“The Maids,” a translation from the Genet original, is next up on the calendar…with hopes to butt it snugly up against a mainstay of my bucket list, which will be auditioning next week.

…So, currently, I’ve a Scouser hairdresser a-la Pygmalion (“Educating Rita”) sharing space with a twisted turn-of-the-century homicidal Frenchy who likes to play-act as others. It’s an interesting combo up in my head these days, to say the least…which I obviously love, as only an actor would voluntarily piggy-back that range and number of personalities together at one time. Dropping the manic-bipolar-drugged-up-drunk off my back, makes the rest left over seem almost feasible at this point.

…So now I’ve only to concentrate on the massive “Maids” line load, break down my script as to whom I am “playing” when, and prep a monologue. Pffft!! Piece of fucking cake!

…Except, minus the cake.

…Cuz I’ve seen what we are wearing in this little French horror story, and the deconstructed waste of seedy, stringy undergarments we will be sporting, while slithering all over one another, requires yet another diet regime to flog and whip my body into a submissive state that I feel comfortable slobbering all over a stage in my “altogethers.” Well, as comfortable as one can be, anyway.

…I wonder if going vegetarian is the key? I wonder if I could even fathom a world without meat for any real length of time?

…I wonder if The WHS Pimp would survive the wasteland of this office with an hormonal and pregnant receptionist, and a meat-addicted me on the wagon?

…Fuck that…would the WORLD survive it??

…This is prob’ly TBA.

…But definitely not till after I finish this donut…

~D

Angry & A Wake

3 Mar

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I sound like a damn schizophrenic in in these blog entries.  A shitty and depressing entry, followed by frivolity, followed by stupid, followed by numb, then angry, and depressing again.

…Look, I’m TRYING.

…It just feels like the second I get a foothold here, I slip and plummet to the bottom of the goddamn pit again.  I’m exhausted from the effort of basically getting nowhere.

…And tonight is no different.

Currently, I am sitting on the couch with two fingers of 12-year-old Jameson in a glass, neat.  This is my part of a “wake” in Grandpa’s memory, having missed the gathering and mourning with everyone else.

…I am alone, and frankly would rather be at this point.

I’ve done Month-End, eight hours of work, was emotionally side-swiped and launched into a total pissed off rage with nowhere to put it before three and a half hours of rehearsal, and now I’m finally home and having to deal with it all.

Mostly, I am very angry.

…And let me tell you why.

After having spent two sleepless and anxious nights trying my best to figure out how to give condolences to a man I don’t know and haven’t for quite some time now…because it was my blood duty to…because according to birth records, I call him, “Dad”…after beating myself up with guilts I promised years ago not to feel responsible for, because it is the parent’s job to be the parent and not the child’s.  Because after 14 years, it suddenly seemed important to understand what is REALLY important and what is not-so-much in times like these…because tonight I feel betrayed by him.  Again.  And because for reasons I will never know…I was surprised by it.

I am angry.

Because he has hurt someone I love.

…Me, I can take. Him, I can’t.

My father’s practices of hypocritical proselytism under the tent of a faith born of acceptance and love, turned long ago sick with man’s influence of judgement and hate, has always been a major contention with me. Most of all when I got out from under it, having been raised with the blinders it encouraged, and saw the preachings and prejudices for what they were.

…It took me a long time…most of my young adulthood, in fact, to realize the difference between actual love and acceptance, and “the other thing.”

It seems really simple to those not born drinking the Kool-Aide. But for the rest of us imagine it like this: You are born being told that “this” is “blue.” You were taught this from your roots, before you even had words. And you grew up with this knowledge for most of your life. Then one day you meet a person who swears “blue” isn’t “blue” at all. It’s actually “red.” And this concerns you because first of all, how DON’T they know “blue” when they see it, and why do they keep insisting it’s another color entirely with so much fervor?

…And then you meet another person who sees it like that. And another.

…And suddenly you begin to wonder, to actually doubt for a moment, the solidarity of your education in these matters. I mean, they seem to feel so very deeply about this matter. And they have reasons, they have issues, they have people they know who it has actually affected…lives that have been changed because of it.

…And all you have as your excuse is, ” Well…but I was taught this.”

Sometimes there comes a moment when this is just not a good enough excuse. It usually happens when you PERSONALLY find yourself in a situation being affected by it. And there you really have to stand there a second…over the course of however long the ultimate struggle is…and reeducated yourself to the fact that not EVERYTHING you were taught was correct…that sure, there are ground-core beliefs you will always hold true, but that this one…this one has to change.

…Because you suddenly realize that it is the right thing to do.

…So you begin to embrace “red.”

…And it changes you for the better. Because it was a choice YOU made, for the reasons YOU had, and if it makes being a human and living with them a better experience: so much the better.

…Now since my 6-day-a-week childhood church-going habit, I have changed a great deal. Rather “heathen” now. Obviously. But I do still have faith in the things that are my core of importance. And I pay them heed. There IS a level of “sacred” even in those fallen from grace.

…But that was a “red” I chose long ago, as well. And I’m still perfecting it. Which is, I think, the point. Keeping growing as a human in a liquid state, not cast in dead stone, unwilling to budge an inch, even for comfort of a friend.

This is where my anger came through tonight. An outrageously inappropriate cornering of a person I love, on a day of his loss, by a man who so bitter with the years of stone religion in his heart, that he could find nothing better to do than preach at and judge, damn to hell, and speak ill of a person, his lifestyle, his choices, his very core and sense of self…who has never done him an ounce of ill, nor wished to. A man who decided that speaking shame in the stead of love, and grotesqueness instead of acceptance was a more godly thing to do, than a hug of support in the sharing of their loss together.

…This is the man who might have raised me.

…And I thank God, tonight, that he did not.

…It took me long enough to pull out of those years of hatred-and judgemental foundation as it was. Imagine had it been allowed to seed further? Imagine if I were standing beside him today seeing “blue” because it was the only color ever taught me, with no encouragement, no support, no friends and other family to help me grow and learn and question these prejudices?

…Imagine if I were the one yelling at my brother, whom I love, with all my heart and guts and pieces…as if I had any right in the least to tell another who to love or not, what to feel or not, how to live or not?

…Imagine if I never learned the color “red?”

All I can say is, “Thank God that I did.”

…And shame on the man too closed-minded, who hasn’t.

…And slainte in a toast of remembrance to Grandpa. To my family in their remembrances of him, and to my Puff, whom I love and support in all his joyful perfections.

Just the way he his.

~D

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