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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 5

Less creative, more administrative

And... good evening,

I would have blogged earlier, but I got caught up in the big press conference.

Today was about setting a schedule. Planning for the next stage of this bad boy. Grant deadlines and resources. And a chat with my web-dude. We had a chat about whether my idea was feasible (it is!), whether it would cost an arm and a leg (it won't... at least on the web side - the video side is another story), and whether it's really "interactive" (jury's still out on that one).

So on the last day before I go back to my joe-job, I feel good. Prez. Obama had it exactly right: "I'm happy with the progress so far, but I am not content."

More needs to be done. And it's up to me to keep working, evenings and weekends, until my next week off. End of May.

I'll keep you updated, but more on big ticket items rather than day-to-day stuff, as i go.

Good night!

Day 4

Good morning;

Sorry this post is late. I had a little back spasm last night and had to lay off of the computer for a bit. (My desk at home is NOT ergonomically sound.)

Had a pretty good day of working on my scaffold yesterday, although at about 2pm I went through a crushing wave of doubt and self-defeatism. The technical requirements of this project all of sudden felt overwhelming, and I lost my confidence.

And then my back spasmed out.

However, I chilled out for a little bit and then came back at it later in the evening, and got some good work done. My focus right now is character and story. Tech headaches can come later.

Tonight, actually. I'm meeting with my web guy tonight (postponed from last night cause of my back - thx 4 yer patience, dude), and we're going to get into it.

But not painful, woe-is-me-this-is-too-fuckin-hard details. More of an exploration of possibilities. And it's going to be fun.

I mean, seriously: if it's not fun, it's not worth doing. This is theatre for god's sake. I can be miserable at my joe-job.

More later...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 3

Two different stories for two different audiences

No, I didn't work on my REALITY project over the weekend. Why not? Well, 5 of the 6 boys from my BFA class were in town for a wedding. So we had a mini-reunion, some good food, and way too much to drink.

Plus, my wife and I had to finish our taxes. (We did - YAY!)

Plus, I went to go see the Subway Series, presented by Ghost Jail Theatre and The Sketchersons. And it was fucking awesome.

I realized this weekend, however, that I'm not going to be finished the next draft of my script by the time the first week of my creation process is done. There's just too much that needs to be done. However, I believe that the work that I'm doing now is accomplishing three very important things:

1) I'm creating a detailed enough scaffold to be able to finish a really strong draft in the next couple of weeks.
2) I'm writing with production in mind, so that I can bring my collaborators some really solid material to work with.
3) I'm building momentum which will push me to continue the work when I go back to my 9-5 gig.

The third thing is the most important because, to tell you the honest truth, I've been creatively dry for months now. As tough as the process is, I'm relieved.

Er, yes, "scaffold". It's a term my former AD used to use, for our ETC creative process. Here is a quote:
"Sometimes the work begins from nothing more than an idea, sometimes a rough script (or as we call it, a scaffold) is brought into rehearsals, or existing material is sometimes adapted. From there, exploration, de-construction and general mayhem ensues."
Barbra French – ETC Artistic Director

I guess, in my personal process, it's more of an outline. This is what I'm using for each scene:

Location: I describe the setting here
Date: The year the scene takes place
Media: My ideas for camera feed, projection and online streaming
Description: Plot description
Background: What happens before and after

At this point, I've cut about 1/3 of my existing material, have re-ordered my scenes and am using the above format to help me figure out how much I want to keep and how much needs to be re-written in the next draft.

I'm also considering having two versions of the play for an online audience and an in-person audience. The idea is currently this: the online audience sees what the camera sees via a live-feed stream. The in-person audience can also see the camera feed via projections. However, there are three scenes that take place off-camera. I was thinking before of just videoing the action offstage and nixing the projections. Now I'm wondering if I should shoot some pre-recorded content, and stream alternate scenes for the online audience while the in-person audience watches entirely different material.

Ignoring the technical headaches that this entails, the play is all about perception vs. identity, so I like the idea of having different versions of the story that exist. Especially if the "real" version is more difficult to access - you have go in-person to see the show to access it. Although "real" is not the right word: both versions are "real". Just one reality would be more packaged than the other. (Which imitates the subject matter quite nicely.)

But maybe people would be turned off if they felt like they were missing out on something. I don't know, what do you think?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 2

Hey there;
Totally bagged so this'll be short and sweet.

My new fun word for writing is "plausibility." As in, is it plausible that this would be happening at this time with these characters?

The answer seems to always come up as "Not in a million fucking years."

So, yeah. It's a slog right now.
But it's still good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


... to get some work done!

I'm off work: from my job-job at least.

So, where to start?

Am starting by reviewing my previously written material. Then character development. I found this set of questions online months and months ago (sorry, can't remember where, so no link). This seems as good as place as any to begin.

(yeah, yeah, character analysis 101, but what the hell.)

Essential Questions about a Character:
(Always answer each question in the first person)

1. Describe yourself in three sentences.
2. How did you get your name? Do you like your name?
3. How old are you? Do you like your age?
4. Who is your best friend? Who are your enemies? What makes an enemy and what makes a friend for you?
5. Do people generally like you? How much money do you have? Are you happy with that?
6. Describe something significant that happened to you yesterday.
7. Describe something significant that happened to you in your past.
8. What do you want? What do you need? What is stopping you from getting what you want?
9. What do you like about yourself? What do you dislike?
10. Any religion?
11. If you could be someone else, who would you be?
12. Who is your hero? Who is your role model?
13. What is your favorite fairy tale?
14. What do you hope for in the future?
15. What is your greatest fear?
16. What is your greatest dream?
17. What makes you angry?
18. What do you worry about?
19. What is your ideal death?
20. What’s your worst death?
21. I am obsessed with…
22. I can still hear my mother saying…
23. I can still hear my father saying…
24. I am like …
25. My motto in life is …
26. I never have …
27. I always …
28. Describe your living environment…
29. What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
30. What do you see in the mirror? Do you like what you see?
31. How do you get ready to go out?
32. Are you loved?
33. Who do you love?
34. Are you happy with your life? Do you have the ability to change it?
35. What animal are you most like?

Update: 4pm.

Okay, so I didn't use the above list at all.

Those questions are more general fine-tuning questions. My script problems are a little more broad than that. I might come back to these sometime later, but today I needed a more focused strategy.

I've started placing my script in real time, as in a start date and an end date for the story. Earlier drafts play with time, i.e. scenes are not ordered chronologically from first to last. Which I like and am planning to keep. However I need to have a really firm idea of what is actually happening in order to make sure everything makes sense.

Furthermore, my general wishy-washy attitude about time has resulted in wishy-washy characters. By firming up exactly what happens when will help me clarify each character's objectives for each scene. You can only know what you want if you understand where you're coming from...

I'm also discovering weaknesses in the plot. "Discover" is not really the right word, as I already knew that there were weaknesses in there... this is more like pinpointing them, I guess. It's a kind of unraveling effect -- just pulling on a string and the whole outfit is coming apart.

Now, this post may sound negative, but I'm actually relieved as I write this. Don't worry, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water. I feel like I'm making progress, and although I have a lot of work ahead of me, I feel like I can solve the problems that are unfolding in front of me. It's been a good day so far.

And I'm having fun, to boot.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Update City #2

Vacations, reunions, and gigs, oh my!

Just got back from a little trip back home to Alberta, mostly to see family. First to Calgary to see my in-laws, then to Edmonton to see my immediate family. I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't intensely homesick when we arrived in Edmonton... but then it snowed 15cm on the day we flew out, so I felt better.

This was a family trip, so I totally apologize to all my friends back home who are reading this, saying 'what the hell, why didn't you say you were back in town???' We were only in each city for 3 days, and had 2 Passover seders and an Easter dinner to attend. The rest of the time we spent digesting...

Barbra FrenchHowever, by pure serendipity, the core members of my (now-disbanded) Edmonton theatre troupe, the Etcetera Theatre Collective were all in town at the same time: me, Artistic Director Barbra French, and Company Dramaturge Heather Fitzsimmons Frey. We met for coffee at Heather's (the only one still in E-town), partly to catch up but also so I could return archival videos of our shows back to Barbra. She's getting a website done up, and is hoping to digitize and upload all our shows online. Once it's live, I'll be sure to post a link.

It was sure nice to see them again -- really, it's the first time we've been in the same space in two years -- and shoot the shit about life and, well, theatre. Both Barbra and Heather have been mentors to me, and it was really nice to chat with them about our craft. Especially now that I'm about to go into an intense writing period.

Speaking of which, I've booked two weeks off of my joe-job to focus on my REALITY play. Starting on Thursday of next week, I'm taking a week off, and then taking another week off at the end of May. The first week I'm going to be focusing on story and character development -- mostly on character development actually. (I'm very excited to leave the drudgery of "real life" for a bit and let my imagination play for a bit... er, right after we do our taxes this weekend.) Then, with a couple of weeks in between writing periods, I can get some distance on the script, re-focus and involve my collaborators in designing the play for both physical and virtual space.

Speaking of virtual space, does anyone remember this notice that the CAEA e-newsletter sent out a few weeks back?
Christie Digital Inc.
Audition call for one female and one male performer for a 15-20 minute co-production between the Drama Department of the University of Waterloo and Christie Digital Inc., a Waterloo-based company involved in the research and manufacture of innovative data projection systems. Most recently Christie Digital demonstrated their projection capabilities during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and for Robert Lepage's Le Moulin à Images on the occasion of Quebec City's 400th anniversary. The production will be presented (a) at a showcase for theatre entrepreneurs to be held in Toronto in early July (exact date TBA) and (b) 6-8 trades shows during the subsequent year. Performers will be asked to sign a retainer for the subsequent trade shows.

I've been offered this gig, so it looks like I'll be doing a little more hands-on research in the coming weeks on incorporating multimedia into performance. I'm hoping to share the experience with all of you while I'm at it, but I'm not exactly sure how much I'll be allowed to talk about because of this:
Since the co-production involves a new video display technology, performers must be willing to sign a binding Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

What does this mean? I'm not exactly sure since I'm still waiting to see a contract. Who knows, this all might just end up being pie-in-the-sky in the long run... (keep your fingers crossed for me that it's not, k?)

Assuming that it all works out, and even though it's not a full-on actual production, I'm still looking forward to dusting off my performance skills and getting in front of an audience. And since it's technically a tour, I'll be sure to let you know where I'm going to end up. If I'm in a city near you, let's grab a beer or two, eh?