Project Announcement: Show & Tell

My theatre company, Xua Xua Productions, is about to launch an event that I am incredibly excited about – Show & Tell.

It’s just what you think it is – bring an object that matters to you, and tell its story! The event will become a bi-monthly community storytelling adventure, starting Tuesday, November 20th at Cocoanymph East (4 W 7th Ave @ Ontario). Come share a piece of your story!

Project Announcement: Swallows and Amazons

Once again I get to do my most favourite thing in the world: make up dances and make other people do them. I’ll be doing the choreography for Gallery 7 Theatre’s production of Swallows & Amazons by Helen Edmundson (one of the better playwrights I’ve ever encountered, no less!)

Playing March 8-23 at the MEI Auditorium in Abbotsford

When John, Susan, Titty and Roger are granted their wish to camp on an island, they eagerly look forward to a summer full of adventure and fun. Fueled by their imagination and a desire for new experiences, they set sail in their trusty boat, Swallow. When they meet Nancy & Peggy, the self-proclaimed Amazon pirates, and the cantankerous Captain Flint, their adventure turns in an entirely new and exciting direction. This Canadian amateur premier promises to be a delightful theatre experience for adventurers of all ages.

More info.

This Week at PT: Wittenberg

In what is probably the quickest turnaround in Pacific Theatre’s history, we closed The Spitfire Grill on Saturday night and are opening a staged reading of Wittenberg this Wednesday. Quick-moving, that’s what we are.

I am pretty excited for this one, as it can be summed up with a few words: Hamlet, Martin Luther, and Dr. Faustus walk into a bar, and the rest is history… sort of.

It’s Getting Better All the Time…

I kind of dislike standing ovations. Even more so, I dislike when people just keep on clapping and the actors come out for multiple bows. Generally my attitude is, we clap to say thank you for the experience, the actors bow to accept our thanks and give it back, and then we all move on with our lives. The standing ovation should be reserved, I feel, for those truly exceptional theatrical experiences where you are transported – where you realize that you weren’t breathing, that you had your hand clenched to your heart the whole time, or laughed your face off.

So I was surprised to realize, then, that I have given several enthusiastic standing ovations in the past few months. Possibly more than I have ever given before.

Am I going soft? Have I been worn down into believing that theatre that is just good is amazing? Or is the theatre in Vancouver just reaching a new level of awesomeness?

Some of the shows that swept me off my feet over the past few months include: The Meal at Pacific Theatre, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot at The Cultch, Doubt at Pacific Theatre, Hunchback at The Vancouver Playhouse, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at Pacific Theatre, and Chelsea Hotel at The Firehall.

Looking at that list, I’ve got to say, I don’t think I’m going soft. Sure, there might be a hint of bias there as I do work at Pacific Theatre and thus know and love the artists involved in our productions, but each play on that list was a truly solid piece of theatre. Some transported me through the simple magic of a solid script and amazing performances (Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot), while others grabbed me through their larger-than-life innovation and musicality (Hunchback, Chelsea Hotel), but they were all phenomenal pieces of theatre.

So this post is a shout out to the Vancouver theatre scene. We’re on a roll, guys, let’s keep getting better and better!

World Theatre Day 2012

Technically World Theatre Day has already passed (I’m actually not sure why I didn’t think to post about it last week!), but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate now.

For the uninitiated: World Theatre Day is an internationally recognized day to celebrate theatre, pure and simple. Theatres all over the world celebrate with special showings, discounts, and behind-the-scenes events. There is also an official WTD speech written each year by an invited artist, and this year it was the esteemed and awesome John Malkovich:

I’m honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theatre workers, peers and comrades.

May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life’s work. And may the best of you – for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments – succeed in framing that most basic of questions, “how do we live?” Godspeed.

Another Opening! Fiddler on the Roof

This week is the opening of Fiddler on the Roof at Trinity Western University! I did the choreography for this one, and it was a blast – the entire team embodied that perfect mix of professionalism and fun. This one’s definitely worth checking out.

The show runs March 13-31 at Trinity Western University in Langley.
For tickets visit their website.

This week is all about theatre

This week I’ve got theatre on the brain because I’ve got theatre on the schedule. It’s a busy one: at Pacific Theatre we’re opening RE:UNION, a new play by Sean Devine, and at Rumble Productions we’re in the second week of rehearsals for SNOWMAN by Greg MacArthur. Two great plays by two Canadian writers.

Normally I would never write a blog post about shows I’m being paid to publicize. It seems a little… well, not very classy. However, with these two I can’t really help it because I am incredibly excited about both of them.

First up: Pacific Theatre and RE:UNION.

Re:Union is a fictional story based in historical fact. In 1965 a Quaker named Norman Morrison burned himself to death outside the office of Robert McNamara to protest the Vietnam War. He brought his baby daughter with him and it is unclear if he intended for her to be a part of his sacrifice or not, but she did live. The play takes that event and imagines Emily Morrison (the daughter) in the wake of 9/11, struggling to carry her father’s legacy of sacrifice and pacifism in the light of a new war in a new millennium. This play is inventive, poetic, theatrical, and boils down to one compelling story. It opens this Friday night and I could not be more excited.

Second on the docket: Rumble Productions and SNOWMAN

This one’s pure fiction, and a lovely piece of fiction at that. Set in a small Canadian town on the edge of a glacier, a young man discovers the body of a long-dead neanderthal in the ice. The result is a dark and haunting comedy – think Twin Peaks or Fargo. You can’t help but laugh as these all-too-human characters make bizarre decisions after making this discovery. I knew I would like it after I read the script, and I knew that I would love it after sitting in on the first read through.

Sometimes working in theatre can be a bit of a slog: big stress, big pressure, little payback. Sometimes we have to put on shows that aren’t very exciting to make a little money. Sometimes we think a show is going to be exciting and it flops. When I get a chance to be a part of two productions like these, however, I know that I am doing the right thing. How do you know when you’re doing the right thing?

Speak Your Truth

I just finished reading Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland, and there was one quote that really stuck out for me:

“No one is boring who is willing to tell the truth about himself.”

What I love about this quote is how it speaks so directly to my two loves in life: yoga and theatre (surprised?).

In yoga, you can’t lie to yourself. Sure, you can try to push yourself farther than you’re actually able to, but that will only take you so far. In the end, if you’re going to have a successful practice, you have to be honest and accept your truth. Your hidden foibles, quirks, and talents will become obvious to you, and if anyone was watching you (like say, your instructor who should be keeping an eye on you), they’ll see it to. Not to make you self-conscious while you’re practicing – that’s really the beauty of it all! Everyone has foibles, quirks, and talents and most of the time we hide and control them with all our might. During yoga you’re free to be honest, to tell the truth about yourself, and to be incredibly interesting.

How about theatre? Theatre is the art of telling stories. No, they aren’t always true stories, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t truth in them. If you frequent the theatre, think back to the last show you saw that had that magical extra something. The show that grabbed your heart and didn’t let go until the lights came up. Why did it do that? Because it was speaking truth. Pure and simple. Whether it was speaking truth with lots of flashy costumes and effects, one person on a stage in a coffee shop, or accompanied by singing and dancing, the play grabbed your heart because it spoke a truth that connects with your truth. And you couldn’t look away.

So speak your truth! You can practice living your truth in yoga, you can experience it in the safety of a darkened theatre, but ultimately, it’s all about bringing your truth off the mat, out of the risers, and into your daily life.

How’s that for a little yoga \ theatre \ life?