Monday, May 25, 2009

Why Do I Try To Brush My Teeth and Remove Nail Polish At The Same Time?

It doesn't work.  You know what else doesn't work?  Toys that claim to increase 600% in size when placed in water for 72 hours.   I just threw out a mangled moose that was floating around in brown water for 6 days.  What was I expecting?  That I'd wake up in the morning and a life size moose would be standing in my kitchen?  Or a moose the size of a small dog?   Okay, listen, I'd have been happy with a large rat.   But no.  It kind of just got foamy and puffy, like it had a gastrointestinal disease.   So it's gone...and I still find myself muttering, "I should've got the princess!"   I'm a woman who doesn't give up.

I'm also a woman who, although I've failed at it a thousand times over, still clings to the notion that multi-tasking works.  It doesn't.    If you brush your teeth while trying to remove nail polish you will fail at both jobs,  especially if you're trying to read a magazine at the same time. So there's my excuse why I didn't blog while I was in Calgary workshopping my new play. 

What was I thinking?!

Did I forget about the all-night writing sessions?  The loss of sleep over punctuation?  The agonizing over word choice?  Did I mention I'm an A-type?   Why would I want to write MORE when taking a break from writing?  Sorry, but I'd rather have a hot tub and drink a glass of wine.  So here's my update:  I got a play out of the deal.  The "deal" being my 5 day workshop of my new play "The Boiler Room" at The Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary.    On day 5 it was like birthing it out of my eye socket but they laughed, they cried (not really) and stuck around afterwards to ask a tonne of really great questions.

This (a play)  didn't come without it's complications....but it wouldn't be my life if it wasn't combined with some sort of uncomfortable challenge.   Oddly enough, the audience members who were invited to blog and tweet during the reading were not one of those complications (see previous posts).   In fact, I barely noticed they were there.  They weren't nearly as distracting as the woman with the 45 bracelets on each arm.   I'm not suggesting that I now openly embrace phones and lap tops in the theatre,  I just think you should leave your jewelry at home. 

We all need to find moments in our life where we don't have to multi-task.  Where we can just be present and absorb what's in front of us.  For someone like me that place is in the theatre or staring at the mountains.   Where I don't even think of brushing my teeth or removing my nail polish:  I just stare and think I must be blessed to be Canadian.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Should I really care what you think?!

Yes.  Yes, I do.  Fortunately as I gracefully age I learn to not care as much as I used to.   In theatre school I found it extremely challenging to "not pay attention to the audience and just be present in the scene".   I admit now that I didn't really understand what this meant.  Am I just supposed to ignore the 200/400/800 people staring at me?  I recommend all young actors to get on a comedy stage if they suffer from this affliction, there's nothing like someone yelling at you from the audience to help you focus on the task at hand.    I also suggest outdoor Shakespeare: If you can remain present and connected during a performance when an audience member is reading the text a long with you then you've chosen the right career.  If all that fails, give birth to a human.  It's incredibly painful but it works. 

I digress...

Many workshops for theatre work in such a way that an audience is invited to listen to a reading and then comment on the play.   What did they like?  What didn't they understand?  I've even seen it phrased in such a way as "Help us to improve the play".   Let me say this first:  I'm not precious.   I understand the work I create is for an audience.   The life I've chosen is a series of "Things Yelled Out in Public", even my daughter stopped me in the grocery store recently and yelled "Momma, no poo poo in your underwear!"   She's got a point.   But I have to wonder, do visual artists invite groups of strangers into their studios and ask them if their work needs more red?   Do composers ask those with an untrained ear if the second last note is too high?   Our work is for the public but where do you draw the line?   Is the feedback session for the playwright or for the theatre deciding whether or not they should produce the work? (Please produce my work.  Thank you)

Here's what I love about workshops:  First, I get to go do what I love.   Secondly, I get to work with a group of artists who are working for very little to let me hear the work I've been creating alone at my desk.  And finally, it allows me a sneak peak at hearing an audience reaction.    Are you laughing?  Crying?  ummm....listening?   Or, if we are referring to the audience in my first post - Are you checking your email?

So yes, I care what you think.  Just don't make me shove your phone down my pants (again, refer to first post) and please PLEASE don't poo in your underwear.  That's just down right embarrassing.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog...that is the question.

Well, it's the question today anyway.  Seems appropriate that my first entry here on "Things Yelled Out in Public" is about Blogging.  I'm being interviewed this morning on the CBC Radio morning show in Calgary regarding a pilot project by Lunchbox Theatre where patrons will be allowed, and encouraged, to "live" Blog or Tweet (this phrase is harder to get used to) during a workshop reading of my new play "The Boiler Room".  As in, open lap tops/glowing phones, beeps, click click DURING the reading.  As most of you know this a big no no in the performance world.   I was recently at a David Sedaris reading at Massey Hall where the woman in front of me was desperately trying to figure out her new iPhone so she could take pictures of Mr. Sedaris when he walked on the stage.  As she did this, I was desperately trying to figure out how to not shove her new iPhone down my pants.   She wasn't even considering how distracting that would be for the rest of us sitting behind her (an iPhone screen is obnoxiously large if you don't know).

So what's it going to be like during a reading of something that I personally have been working on for...well, quite a long time.  I think Lunchbox might have to make me sign a waver to not attempt to shove all the Bloggers computers and phones down my pants.   

But hey, it's new and I'm willing to give it a try.   So here's what I'm going to do.  I will blog here for the week of the workshop and then give you an update (an honest update) on how it went during the Saturday theatre Blogathon.  (As I write this my phone and my cell are ringing...are we trying to communicate TOO much?) So stay tuned.   And go check out the rest of my website at   See ya!