Otherwise

Otherwise
opinions about life, work, and spirituality

Banquet; a day of research in Huddersfield, UK

June 17th, 2013

We uncurl ourselves from the packed train like roly-polies. We hustle out of the station loaded down with backpacks, suitcases, stuffed animals, diaper bags and a silver lap-top. My research schedule for the next two days is packed tight. My daughter, Calla, and my husband, James must accompany me on this foray because we can’t afford separate hotels over the next two nights.

The three of us hurry hand-in-hand through the square outside the station, but Calla breaks free and sprints to an ornate fountain, where she begins to undress. We sprint after her. Our luggage bangs over cobblestone and slaps against our limbs. I sit on the lip of the fountain, and grab Calla. She kicks an enthusiastic and giggly can-can while I attempt to fit her back into socks and shoes. I give up and James places our bare-foot three year old into the stroller. “I want to walk!”, she screams. “You can walk, but you need to wear your shoes and hold our hands,” James says. I attempt shoes again, not bothering with socks, but she returns to the can-can. I don’t have time for this negotiation, I think, I have research to get to! New tactic: laugh along with her and make funny noises as I trap her feet and shove them into her shoes. Her laughter stops. “No shoes!” she yelps from the stroller and flails her feet so that the shoes spin off into the air, plopping down metres from the fountain. James rolls Calla onwards as I snatch the shoes, livid, all but throwing the damn things in the fountain myself.

My play, Wolf at the Door, uses the Luddite movement as a backdrop for the sometimes humorous breakdown of a single family, the Grenfells. As we lumber past Georgian era buildings that would have been familiar to the Grenfells, our muscles ache and we sweat profusely under our cumbersome, heavy loads. The sound of my sobbing child is like the screech of a dental drill, and feels like the sharp pain of tin on teeth. As we rumble past large, square-bricked buildings, I try to make eye contact with locals, but people keep their eyes to the ground or to the distance beyond us. The city feels rough and hard and impersonal. We arrive at the hotel on the last dregs of adrenaline where we are met with a long, steep flight of stairs to the entrance. “Oh, come on!” I yell and kick my suitcase like a two year old in a tantrum. My husband shoots me an angry glance and my daughter cries more furiously. It feels that we too, like the Grenfells, are on the brink of breakdown.

Out of breath and ragged, we dump copious bags and backpacks in our bland hotel room. We barely speak as we quickly head for Huddersfield’s joint public library and historical archives. James takes Calla to the kid’s section, while I rapidly climb to the third floor, through a set of double doors to Reference and Archives. The large room has high ceilings and arched windows, with wood desks lined in the middle, and shelving along the edges, and feels cozy rather than cavernous. It has taken what feels like arduous years, but finally: I’m here!

I immediately approach a librarian and tell her I’m interested in how weavers lived and worked, and how local Luddites organized themselves. I’ve already been to Manchester, I say, visiting a working industrial revolution-era cotton factory where I had to scream to be heard over the clanking and whirring of steel machines. I sheepishly point out that I don’t have much time to conduct my research. The librarian stalwartly enlists her peers, and soon a team of superstar librarians lead me to a banquet of first-hand sources. I allow myself a moment to salivate before digging in; letters of correspondence, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, warrants for arrest, legal documents and even some photos.

I scribble notes, photocopy maps and take pictures of posters. I work solidly and seamlessly. Hours pass in what feels like minutes. I file through lists of weaving apprentices when suddenly a lively, fuschia-bright voice pitches across the room,
“Mommy! Mommy! Are you hungry? I’m hungry! Daddy’s going to take me to get some dinner. Are you coming?” My daughter swaggers across the room and beams at me, while my husband follows, alternately chuckling and apologizing to patrons.

Dinner already?! I look at the clock. The library doesn’t close for another hour. “Mommy! You need to come to dinner,” my daughter implores. A tightness screws across my chest and my head buzzes like radio static. The table before me is spread with books and pamphlets, a buffet of information. I have to stay here, I need my research time! This is what I came to England for! My daughter pats my arm gently, and the gummy smile she’s inherited from me spreads across her face. My husband looks at me, happily hopeful. Ugh. I swivel my head between my family and work.

Choose research; this play’s my baby!
Choose family; I love them, and they’re so hopeful!
Choose research; so little time to work!

The weight of my decision is as heavy as large, mechanized steel across my chest.

I hurriedly ask James if he can tide Calla over with a bun from a nearby bakery and wait for me while I finish. He nods and my daughter gallops towards the library doors, dragging my husband by hand. A compromise because: I want it all. But like Matthias Grenfell, will my desire to have everything undermine all?

Damper the thought. No time for philosophy. Return to research.

Two minutes to closing time, as librarians tug on coats to go home, I slap my book closed, only halfway through. I leave the third floor, my delicious buffet of information unfinished, interrupted. Like a starving beggar thrown an hors d’oeuvre from the doors of an opulent wedding banquet, I feel sickened by what I can’t possess.

I pass through the library’s front doors towards my family. Resentment pours off of me like bubbles off soda. James smiles, half-warily, half-hopefully, from the front steps. My daughter runs to me and places a sticky chunk of current scone into my hand. I take a bite.

The bitter tang of orange rind; the sting of unsatisfied research needs. But then: the sweetness of tiny currents and the rolling, smooth creaminess of butter. The pressure of earlier, the loaded-down exhaustion and subsequent misery dissipate, and with it, my fear and anger. This scone, offered so giddily by my enthusiastic three year old daughter, may not be a banquet, but in this moment, it is more than enough. Tomorrow is another day of research, and it, too, will be enough. My family will live through the chaos, just as we have before. I fall in line with my hungry family as we munch on tasty english pastry, unfinished notes slung in a bag across my shoulders, all of us compromised, but, grateful for this life, like our mouthful of scone; enough.

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On Writing – Amen!

February 2nd, 2009

A few days ago, I posted some of Anne Lamott’s words about writing. As I toil away at my full length play, Luddites!, here are some more thoughts about writing:

I’m so grateful to be able to write. I think it changes me, makes me a better human being; a more human human being! I learn from my writing. If I hadn’t written The Saddest Girl in the World, I wouldn’t know much about Kosovo, its war and current situation. I would be less attuned to the complexities of ethnic conflict, and less passionate about welcoming new immigrants to Canada. Now, with Luddites!, I am blessed to learn about the Industrial Revolution, about work and life in the early 1800’s in England. My point-of-view is being stretched, and my empathy nourished as I learn to empathize with a (lead) male character. I have the chance to work with my wonderful dramaturge, Kathy Parsons, which is invigorating and fun. I have the chance to hold readings, which are satisfying, communal and stimulating. I am richer for being a part of an artistic community.

I agree with Anne Lamott that writing is a reward in itself. The point is not publication, or in my case, production. The joy of writing; of entering into another realm and loving and caring for a group of characters, and of simply creating; that is what matters. That is the point. I admit, however (there had to be a however!), that I long to share my creation with more people. I am very happy to have the opportunity to share my work with Kathy, a group of actors and a few friends. It’s a chance many people in this world are never given. I am very grateful for what I have. And, I want to do for others what certain writers and playwrights do for me.

When I was a child, I played a game in which I held a large, gilded mirror in my arms as I walked through my house. I would gaze fixedly into the mirror and imagine that I was walking on the ceiling. I would jump over chandeliers, trace my foot around decorative ceiling plasters and stretch my little legs to step over room dividers. It was an exhilerating exercise; experiencing a new planet within the familiar. Reading a good book or listening to a great play is similar. I look into another world, in which my own self is reflected, but am caught up in another reality. This is what I want to do for others; provide a place to gaze deeply into another life, and find themselves reflected.

Right now I’m reading a novel entitled “Fox”, by Margaret Sweatman. It’s a short piece, set at the time of the Winnipeg General Strike. I’m sure there aren’t many copies of this book around. Probably very few people have heard of, seen, or read this novel. I’m not sure many critics paid attention to it. The thing is, I’m really enjoying it. I find it creative, poetic and compelling. I love entering into the world this author has created because it’s unique, attractive, and evocative.

Some authors and playwrights are famous. Half of these for good reason – their work evokes something in a lot of people, or is distinctly unique and highly creative. Some are famous for reasons of fluff. The media has latched on to some controversy or matter within their work (I’m thinking of one particular piece of clunky-worded bombasticness that soared to popularity in the talons of religious controversy), and the general population has followed. But for every famous author or playwright, there are more than a dozen like the author of “Fox” – whose works are wonderful, every bit worth reading or listening to. Their creators work steadfastly, with hardly any financial renumeration, for the divine joy of writing itself, and for the blessed opportunity to edify a few people’s lives. I know I am one of these artists.

I hope and pray that God will continue to grant me the creativity, time, passion, discipline and motivation to write. Should God bless me, after good work and perseverance, with the opportunity to share my work with more people, I pray I would be continually grateful for both the process and the “product”. Should it not be the case, I pray that God would help me to focus on the sheer joy writing gives me, the way in which it makes me more human, and the relationships I have garnered through the writing process so far. Amen!

A Noble Vocation

January 29th, 2009

Last night I finished reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. My response to the following passages from her wonderful book is, “Amen” and “Amen”:

There are moments when I am writing when I think that if other people knew how good I felt right now, they’d burn me at the stake for feeling so good, so full, so much intense pleasure. I pay through the nose for these moments, of course, with lots of torture and self loathing and tedium, but when I am done for the day, I have something to show for it.

Don’t underestimate the gift of finding a place in the writing world: if you really work at describing creatively on paper the truth as you understand it, as you have experienced it, with the people or material who are in you, who are asking that you help them get written, you will come to a secret feeling of honor…No matter what happens in terms of fame and fortune, dedication to writing is a marching-step forward for where you were before, when you didn’t care about reaching out to the world, when you weren’t hoping to contribute, when you were just standing there doing some job into which you had fallen…Even if only the people in your writing group read your memoirs or stories or novel, even if you only wrote your story so that one day your children would know what life was like when you were a child and you knew the name of every dog in town – still, to have written your version is an honorable thing to have done…if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.

“So why does our writing matter, again?” they ask.
Because of the spirit, I say. Because of the heart. Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.

(Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott)

Massive Recap 1: The Tour

October 10th, 2008

Okay, so I teased you with the last entry, as I was beginning the Winnipeg Fringe. I let you know about the whole process of writing a play, dramaturging and rehearsals, and then failed to give you the lowdown on the product. What can I say? Sorry! You can’t imagine – or quite possibly you can, if you’ve ever been self-employed and busting your butt to make a few nickels – how busy I was. Mostly it was publicity work. From sun-up to sun-down, if I wasn’t performing, I was yacking at people about how fabulous my play is, in an attempt to get bums in seats.

So how to recap? Here are some of the most vivid memories from the Fringe tour:

WINNIPEG

1. It’s my opening night, and I’m praying that more than five people show up. I’ve been passing out postcards to the crowds, confidently telling people about my fabulous play, and I’m ready to open the show! It’s a 10:40pm show on a Thursday night, and as time goose-steps closer to the appropriate time, I begin to falter. There is no-one in the audience. However, I tell myself, it doesn’t matter. I will play to whomever shows up. 7 people show up, and I play my heart out to them. I even manage to ignore the man in the front row who keeps falling asleep. It’s a good performance, and the miniscule audience is appreciative. This kind of thing continues for the next two nights; teeny-tiny audiences that give me standing ovations, cheers and hearty feedback.

2. It’s Saturday of the first week, and my show still has not been reviewed. I am stewing in a brine of frustration. This is my first Fringe, nobody knows me. Why are the papers first reviewing folks who’ve been at this game for six or seven years, who already have a great reputation to fuel their audience numbers? My audience is small again, but Eric, my technician lets me know beforehand that there are 3 critics in the audience. Finally. He tells me one of the critics present is Morley Walker from the Winnipeg Free Press. I’ve been warned about Mr. Walker. He’s the primary critic in Winnipeg, and apparently a very tough guy to please. A colleague tells me, “He doesn’t like ANYTHING.” Great.

I perform, well enough, and wonder how the critics will respond. Normally, I don’t check my reviews, but this is the Fringe. A four or five star-review can make you, anything lower can break you. And you need to be able to tell people all about your reviews, as you yack at them about your play. After my performance, I go to a colleague’s play, in the same venue. Morley sits a few seats from me. He taps me on the shoulder, “Thank you for that. I really enjoyed that. Very nice”, he says. I breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t need the critics to tell me my show is good, but I do need their help in getting greater audience numbers.

3. It’s Sunday morning. I check the newspaper. No review. It’s Monday morning; No review. Tuesday; nothing. I am in the brine of frustration again, pickling away my anger. I’m lonely, I’m all alone. My audiences are tiny. I feel like I can’t do this anymore. I feel ignored, isolated, unknown. All the artists are so busy publicizing, there’s no socializing going on, and I feel so very, very, very alone. Every performance, I go backstage, by myself. There are no friends in the audience, no family members waiting in the lobby and no co-workers in the green room. It’s just me. I tell myself, before each performance, when the seats remain incredibly empty and a great wall of quietness surrounds me as I perform, that numbers don’t matter, I don’t need that wonderful zinging energy a sizable audience brings. I can do this.

There are two things that keep me going at this point: the knowledge that I have an incredible support system back home (people who believe in my artistry and have formally commmited to encourage me), and God’s presence. Seriously. God is there backstage with me, so I am not completely alone. We pace the green room together, we both get an adrenaline rush before walking onstage and have to bounce up and down for a few minutes, and once onstage, he’s up there acting with me. My co-actor.

4. It’s Tuesday afternoon, I’m about to go for some dim-sum, when my cell phone rings. It’s my husband. My review from Mr. Walker is on-line. He reads it out to me, says I need to listen to it. What I hear is this, “Gorgeous brunette, expertly dileneates between characters, strength in writing, poetic, suspenseful, no distractions, holds our attention with our talent alone. Four stars.” I breathe a sigh of relief (and a chuckle about the gorgeous brunette comment). Thank you, thank you God. From here on in, the loneliness remains, but my audiences are sizable and appreciative. I get that wonderful ping-ping energy from my audiences. The other reviews pour in. They’re positive. I start to make some money.

SASKATOON

1. I’m in a Chinese restaurant in Saskatoon with a bunch of artists, and we’re talking. We’re having a real conversation, and not just about ticket sales or promo spiels or performing. The food is pretty bad, it’s mostly all fried, but we talk about all sort of things; childhood, eating patterns, spouses. My loneliness, so apparent in Winnipeg, like a strange taste in the mouth, an ache in the lungs, begins to subside. This is what Saskatoon is about; hanging out with the other artists, seeing their shows, conversing. I do a lot of this in Saskatoon, and soon I forget that I am a solo performer.

2. It’s Sunday night of the first week, and I am hanging out in the performer’s lounge, once again, conversing. My friend Julia is on the internet, and has found her review for her most amazing show, JAKE’S GIFT. It’s a perfect review; well written, overwhelmingly positive. She deserves it – the lady is one of my favorite actors and her show is beautiful, funny and tender. The performers congratulate her, and they really mean it. There isn’t any competition in Saskatoon. It’s a small city with a tiny audience base, and all the artists support each other. There’s a lot of postivity and love going around in Saskatoon. It’s really, really wonderful.

Julia suggests I check to see if my review is on-line, and I think, sure, why not? We open the review, and Julia gasps. The first thing we see is the posting of “2 stars”. Eeek, what the heck? We read on, and I feel strangely tinny. There is not a single positive statement. I think it’s possibly the most horrible review I’ve ever read, and I can’t believe the reviewer saw the same show my very appreciative audiences did. The reviewer likes nothing about my show – the acting, directing, writing, props, set. Nothing. It’s all shit to her. And, if I may say, her review is incredibly poorly written.

I walk home through tree-lined streets, a little numb. My audiences in Saskatoon have been small so far. And now, they will continue to be so. I know my play is poetic and touching. What was that critic thinking?

I wake up the next morning, ready myself to perform with the knowledge that the on-line review will now be in print in the city’s only newspaper. I go backstage, get into my costume, do all the normal warm-ups. I wait backstage at 15 minutes to performance.

It’s five minutes to performance. My tech approaches me cautiously, an apologetic look on his face. His voice is unusually quiet. “Um, uh, Tina, so it’s five minutes to performance, and uh, not a single ticket has been sold.” My heart drops in a rapid elevator dive, right into my shoes. I say, “Okay, well, if even one person shows up, I’ll perform the show if they’re comfortable with that.” He tip-toes away, a worried look on his face. Shit. “I can do this. I can do this.” What if only one person shows up? I feel completely humiliated. Like I’ve been stipped naked, and someone is pointing at my exposed body and laughing uproariously. Metaphorically, I look at my body and think, “It’s a great body; it runs and cycles, and hikes up mountains, laughs, cries, and experiences enormous sensations.” Nevertheless, it is disconcerting to be naked and laughed at. The thought of performing for one or two people, the words of that critic hanging between us, is too much for me. My courage fails. I phone my husband, tell him what’s going on. He prays. I pray. About 7 people show up, and I gulp, walk onstage. The acting is when I am NOT crying today. I make it to the end of the play, walk backstage, and begin to howl.

A performer calls me back onstage, and gives me a hug. He tells me I have nothing to cry about; that it was a great performance. He tells me some ladies were in tears as they left the theatre. Oh, he adds, there’s a guy from the local radio station who wants to interview you. I quickly change out of my costume, wipe away my tears and blow my nose. I did it. That reviewer can point and laugh all she wants at my naked body; I have nothing to be ashamed of!

3. Performer support. The next few days are awash with performers communicating their support and their disappointment at my shoddy review. One performer actually writes in to the newspaper, expressing his regret at the mean natured reviews lately, of which mine is included. Another performer tells me she is going to e-mail the paper because she’s seen my show, and really can’t understand how it deserved such a poor review. One performer notes, “But yours isn’t even a show you CAN give a bad review to. I mean, some shows, they can go either way, but not yours!” It is such an unexpected gift to be so generously given this type of support and understanding. I fully expected that I would simply have to tough it out alone. I am suprised, shocked and delighted. I’m pretty honest with people about how things are going – I’m losing money, my audiences are small, but, strangely, I am not unhappy. Most of my contentedness comes from the fact that every day I make a new friend, and in spite of the low numbers, I am performing my play, and it’s a priveledge.

On the last night of Saskatoon, there is a funny awards show. I recieve the award, “Performer with the Most Idiotic Review.” When asked what I would like to say to the critic who reviewed my show, I say, “Thank you for helping me out. You know, I wasn’t really The Saddest Girl in the World before.” It’s meant to be funny, but people think I’m serious, and a big sad sigh fills the room. Oh vey! It’s a joke, people! But thanks, anyways, thank you very much for your wonderful empathy and understanding. Adios, Saskatoon!

4. I guess, for publicity’s sake, I shouldn’t tell you about that bad review, but I wanted to be honest about the reality of being a solo performer on tour. The really exciting thing is that, from that bad review, I received a whole lot of kindness and care from my fellow artists. I was suprised, because my basic assumption was that this “biz” is cut-throat and competitive and full of egoists. My experience in Saskatoon proved me wrong. (I have reasons for that former assumption, none of which have to do with my experience at Pacific Theatre, but I thought PT was the exception, not the norm.)

So, there you go, my most vivid memories of the tour. A lot of hard stuff, but some really wonderful stuff too. Stay tuned for the recap of the Vancouver production!

All is Well(s)

June 19th, 2008

This past weekend I took a trip to Wells, BC. One of my directors, Dirk VanStralen, is working there for the summer as an actor in historic gold-rush-borne-Barkerville, so I travelled 10 hours by bus to recieve his guidance. (Now that’s loyalty, huh?)

The vistas on the way up to Wells were spectacular. The Fraser Canyon in the Cariboo is amazing: tall rock-sand mountains, colour of burnt umber and caramel, wear tufts of light sagebrush. A rushing slate hued river bubbles and spits and heaves across rocks at the mountains’ base, while a rust train snakes its way in between threatening landslides and violent water.

Wells is quite the town. 200 inhabitants. A one room schoolhouse with 14 students of various ages. While there, I noted two blonde ringleted children smashing through puddles half naked, in temperatures that floated around 10 degrees celcius. I never saw them wearing shoes. The houses are clapboard and worn like grandfather’s old leather slippers. Wells possesses the prettiest bog I’ve ever seen – a feathery, light thing that looks like its made of clouds. Dirk and I rehearsed in an old wooden church, a scent like sauna, heavy pews, bulky pulpit, walls and floors the warm toffee colour of ancient evergreen.

The night before I returned to the city, we gave a (very rough) showing of THE SADDEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. People hooted and chortled the whole way through, which I attribute partly to the isolation of Wells, but mostly to the great direction I’ve received so far. Everyone had positive things to say. Here is some of the feedback: “It woke me up. I feel priveleged to have seen it,” “I loved watching you up there; you are such a joy to watch,” “The character work is terrific,” “The characters are so great and it’s always clear exactly who you are,” “I love Ava!,” “I love Natya!,” “It’s such a beautiful story.”

Sneak Peek

May 24th, 2008

Here’s a sneak-peek sample of the Media Release about THE SADDEST GIRL IN THE WORLD:

Separated from everyone she knows. Haunted by a bloody past. Natya believes Canada is the beginning of a new life. Canada harbours dirty secrets of its own, however, and Natya must face personal demons in a fight to survive. Natya’s one possible ally is Ava: an innocent woman she has never met, whose dreams of jewels glimmer with hope.

Canada takes pride in its multi-cultural society and in attracting the well-educated from around the globe. Recent news articles by CBC and The Globe and Mail have exposed that multitudes of highly educated, experienced immigrants struggle to feed their families by laboring at low-skilled jobs. Contemporary immigrants are among the victims of Canada’s wage gap in which the rich get richer. For immigrants from conflicted countries, the physical presence of former enemies makes the struggle to fulfill “the Canadian dream” all the more difficult.

Otherwise Productions hopes to enter into the discussion of how Canada’s government and caring individuals might aid our newest citizens.

Dig

May 21st, 2008

The “lull” in the production schedule of TSGW didn’t turn out to be much of a break. My grandmother unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago, and James and I flew to Ontario to be there for the funeral arrangements and the funeral. Along with my Great-Aunt Elizabeth and mother, I gave a eulogy to my grandmother. She was an amazing lady; full of life, love, faith and courage. Among all the words I have ever written, the sentences I wrote for my grandmother, to express divine thanks for being who she was and for leaving us with a legacy of love, were some of the most meaningful to me.

So now I am back in Vancouver, separated from family once again, staring at my lengthy “to do” list for TSGW. It hardly seems to matter when I feel the great loss of my Grandma. (And to be honest, I could very easily do without all this blasted publicity and production work.)

There is still joy, however, when I rehearse or write: I’m a child at the beach, red plastic shovel in hand, mud sticks to my limbs, and the heat of the sun, centre of the physical universe, is a warm hand on my bare back, the wind an old, familiar dog that scampers across sand. And I dig. I dig because it’s delightful. And maybe I cry a little while I dig. But it still feels right.

The lull

May 1st, 2008

This week has been a nice break from the sometimes overwhelming work load that comes from writing, acting in and producing TSGW. There have been things to do this week; rehearsing, working on the script, photo-shopping the poster picture, replying and sending the usual e-mails, but it has been wonderfully manageable. The easy pace of production will end tomorrow. I am getting together with the publicist at Pacific Theatre, who will share her knowledge of all things marketing/publicity related, which will give me tonnes to do thereafter. James comes home tonight from Las Vegas, and we will begin to work on the web site. Also tomorrow, I will begin to collaborate with my poster-designer on the poster design. Plus there will be the usual rehearsing, working on the script, memorizing lines and the organizational arranging that is producing. (And since I am the costume designer, props and set person, there are those tasks to consider and execute as well.)

But for now, I enjoy the time and space to listen to interviews with playwrights, start work a little later than normal, read a book during lunch, and to breathe easy.

The Saddest Girl Rehearses with a Bubble-Head

April 19th, 2008

Rehearsals began this past Monday, and so far, they are a blast. It is wonderfully enjoyable to incarnate the characters I’ve written about for the last few months. I was nervous when we first began, of course. “My goodness, I have to be embodied?!”, but after half an hour of working, I was physically and emotionally engaged (yes, I know, acting isn’t about emotions, but they do seem to be the result of listening and going for goals). I credit this to my director. Dirk is a terrific artistic guide; he inspires exploration, freedom and a delight in the process. Kathy, my super dramaturg, was also present during the past rehearsals to chisel away at the rough bits in the script.

It’s been a very interesting process for me so far. When I act, I become a bubble-head. That is, I don’t think analytically or logically. I listen, go for goals, and follow through with actions. I’ve discovered that I have a hard time explaining my choices in any kind of intelligent way, and I don’t seem to be able to philosophize about the story once I’m in acting mode. It’s an intuitive, instinctual process. Playwriting is also intuitive and instinctual for me, but I am more logical and analytical about the over-arching story structure. During rehearsals, as both the playwright and the actor, I have to very quickly step into the contrasting roles. I will be acting, and then, something about the script will pop up, and I will have to make an intelligent decision about whether to cut something or to leave it, or how to rephrase a certain sentence. Then I quickly step out of playwriting mode and return to acting.

I think the overall effect of jumping back and forth from acting to playwriting is that the decisions I’ve made about my play this past week have been very intuitive. Is that a good thing? I think sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s not. Right now I’m reading Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK, and according to Gladwell, decisions made in a split-second (in intuition/from the gut) can be just as smart, if not smarter, than decisions made through a long and thorough process of analysis. It depends upon what need to be decided. Certain questions about my script posed during rehearsals this week never got answered. (Hopefully they weren’t too important. Hee hee.) The walls of my analytical mind are made out of rubbery jello when I’m acting, and a big question jiggles and bounces around my logical brain like a kid in a bouncy castle; it never lands anywhere solid.

Even now, as I write this post, I’m feeling a bit bubble headed. I don’t mind being a dummy. It makes me a smart actor. I just hope Kathy doesn’t mind so much when, in an attempt to answer a logical question about my play, I stare at her with an expression like a happy dog’s and thickly utter, “Ha ha. Oh. Uh, I dunno.”

What the heck is this play about?

April 9th, 2008

A few people have asked me what the play is about, and not wanting to give it all away, I’ll give you the publicity blurb I’ve sent the different Fringe Festivals which includes a very nice quote from PT’s Mr. Reed:

“Tina’s writing has the vitality and theatrical instincts she brings to the stage as a performer, combined with a poetic sensibility and imagination that is distinctly writerly. With each new work she moves from strength to strength.” Ron Reed, Artistic Director, Pacific Theatre.

An unforgiving victim of war. A naïve, lonely Vancouverite. Join two characters, one vibrant actor in a captivating story of blood, dreams, and jewels.

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