What this blog is about

It's an art blog.
Mostly about theatre... but also a healthy dose of pop culture, politics and shameless self-promotion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Creation Design for Virtual Space

Applying a physical background to a multimedia event

photo montage courtesy Michael Cowie
A life in the theatre can seem pretty random. Or... it does until you look back on your body of work and see how mechanically every little career choice has led you up to here.

I was recently awarded a little funding from the Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creators' Reserve grant program, selected through Theatre Gargantua. This is my first arts grant from the Ontario gov't., and my first government funding since I moved to Toronto from Edmonton in mid-2007. I won't lie to you, it's been a quiet few months for me.

However, I've been cooking up a concept for a new show in the mean time. My new project is called REALITY. It's about reality TV. I've already been doing some research (... more about that in a later post...).

My show will be a multi-media production. Believe me, I'm not saying that to try to piggyback on any kind of caché that the label "multi-media production" might have. Like I've said before, I instead worry about the baggage that it carries.

But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in the form.

See, to me, theatre is designing a live event for a specific space and a limited audience during a block of time. Words are spoken, actions are taken, the audience absorbs the whole experience. Which is why I've always been fascinated with physical theatre: because the event is designed for a greater portion of the live space. And you need to begin designing that live space from the moment the creative process begins. It's like shaping a play more than writing it.

But when I did my superhero show back in '07, and we broadcast it over the radio at the same time as we performed it, I realized that "designing for a specific space" and "designing for a limited audience" can have a larger and broader meaning than I originally thought.

Designing a live event for virtual space is a very compelling idea to me. So is designing for a virtual audience.

Designing a live event both virtually and physically simultaneously is... just stupidly cool.

So that's where I'm starting. I'm incorporating the form in the early stages of my creation design. I'm going to talk about the process in this blog as I go along. Not only because I want to share, but also because if you have an opinion or a thought about what I'm doing, I'd love to hear it.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that I wrote the first draft in a 24-hr playwriting contest sponsored by Alberta Playwrights Network and the University of Alberta Bookstore in 2006. (Thank you alma-matter -- I'm totally grateful for my education.)

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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Hero Factory

I love this...

Thanks Hero Factory!

I know, I know, I said I was gonna move on to "dramatic theory" and details about what I'm working on now, etc. ... but this is WAY TOO MUCH FUN not to share.

Thanks Mike for pointing it out.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Answering my own question

Before I move on from politics...

photo courtesy CBC
This will be my last political-based post for a little while as I'm going to start to focus more on artistic process and theory now that I finally got my first grant since moving to Ontario in mid-2007. (Yay!)

But before I do, I thought I'd answer my own question about arts funding in Budget '09.

Did we get what we wanted?

Well, no... but I don't really think it has much to do with how much money was earmarked for culture, nor do I think it has much to do with how the money was distributed (although this is a side effect of what's really ailing us).

What I think we really wanted was a government that recognizes the value of arts and culture in Canada. We still don't have it and, as long as the Harper Conservatives retain power, I don't think we will.

With the 2009 Budget, the sudden appointment of 18 senators immediately preceding it, and the establishment of a firm end-date for the Afghanistan mission during last year's election, the Conservative government basically stopped being... conservative. Or, at least it abandoned the lion's share of policies that it used to stand for.

(Don't take my word for it though. Here's a pundit that knows more about it than I do. Here's another. And another.)

But I don't think this represents a seismic shift in where the party's long-term goals are. Rather, I think that it's a natural consequence of a government whose immediate focus is survival at all costs: compromise.

But that doesn't mean Mr. Harper, his party, or his base now values culture any more than it did when they used arts funding as a wedge issue in the 2008 Federal election. In fact, I've written earlier that the new arts funding in Budget '09 is less a policy than a temper tantrum.

What bugs me, and I think most artists, is that Mr. Harper painted us as leeches in order to win a few votes, and the budget does nothing to salvage our reputation. And we can see that he still thinks we're leeches because no new money is going to arm's length organizations (i.e. Canada Council) that fund us.

What we wanted, what we still want, is a little respect. We want recognition that we do provide an important service to our country, that we are a boon both in raw financial numbers as well as in quality of life.

We want a partnership with our government that is both respectful and responsible. (We don't want to waste taxpayer's dollars anymore than the taxpayers want us to.)

We recognize that not all of our art is going to be brilliant... in fact very little of it will be. In fact, a large portion of it will be shit. That's a fact of life. Art is like science: you must fail, fail, and fail again before you finally discover another secret of the universe.

I think each new secret is worth it. I just wish more people agreed with me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bob Rae Strikes Back!

An Open Letter to the PM

Bob Rae
If you haven't read this yet, prepare to feel very self-satisfied.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Budget Hangover

Stephen Harper

Why has the furor over arts funding fizzled?

It's been about a week since Budget ’09, and all is quiet on the Culture front. At least… it’s been quiet online.

There’s a smattering of righteous anger about the $25M set aside for Luminato’s Canada Prizes for the Arts and Creativity over at Praxis. But, mind you, at the time of this writing, only 9 comments have been posted. And The Art of the Business’s round-up of the budget’s art funding hasn’t generated a lot of discussion either.

In fact, comments have been down across the board. In the G&M’s story about arts funding, only 49 people have voiced their opinions. Which could be construed as a good number, but it’s nothing compared to the hundreds of comments the G&M was generating when the Liberal/NDP coalition was a near reality.

Blogs that I expected to hear from – Department of Culture, One Big Umbrella, The Wrecking Ball – have been mum on the Budget. And yes, I realize that I’m a big ol’ Mr. Pot pointing fingers at a bunch of Mr. Kettles: the first time this blog actually started to get some attention was when I was all about political activism.

So, what gives? What happened to our united front? Why are have we retreated into the dark corner like a pimply tween that snuck into a high school dance?

Did we get what we wanted after all?

Update: Oops, didn't mean to leave you out Starving Artist. Nice read and responses.