Life is like a Box of Bon Mots

Dear Bl-AW-G

Today = Simplicity

A challenge and some advice:

The Challenge:

Try to attend your next play of choice as a blank slate, as a newborn without any preconceived notions about the world or anything that has ever transpired in it and see if it actually moves you to tears or laughter or thought or even just invigorating curiosity without the help of the knowledge they assumed you would bring with you.

The Advice:

More words from my father.

When marketing your next show, think about the demographics of your intended audience.  If you answer the question; “who is this for?” with “everyone”, look back at your play and think about whether this is honestly true.

xoLZ

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Chapter the Ninth: Revolutions in Revelations.

Dear Dr. Blog

Over the past year I have been asked (and accepted) to serve on many many festival juries and as such I have read many many new scripts/proposals for supposed theatrical innovation/endless sentences trying to pass for philosophical dialogue etc…and everything else in all shades of good and bad.  I have enjoyed being part of these juries for the most part because I am ever curious as to what sorts of ideas are out there in the theatre world, beyond my periphery or direct circle of theatre peers.

However, being on so many juries has kept me up many late nights questioning the idea of artistic judgment (Okay not really that late.  There is very little I lose sleep over any more…I love sleep) and the somewhat subjectively arbitrary basis for such judgment.  I mean, while I have accumulated a respectable amount of theatrical training, seen a significant amount of theatre, on top of performing in a buffet of styles, I am really judging based on my own taste.  Theatre is not science.  I either like it or I don’t and many have probably suffered from my “tyranny” but I am not a lone despot.

As we get closer and closer to summer aka festival season, I challenge you to display your bad reviews just as proudly as your good reviews because we all need to remove a bit of the power from those who judge our art and hamper whatever inspiration may grow out of this scene.

Off with my head!

xoL

Less “spice” and more good theatre

My blogging has been delayed this week as I have been working feverishly to successfully open the Paprika Festival. It launched on Friday evening at the Tarragon Theatre and thankfully it was a great success. If you’re not sure of what the hell I’m talking about I’ll explain. The Paprika Festival has been in operation for about 9 years now, functioning as an annual festival featuring the work of young theatre artists under the age of 21.  It happens every March in the second floor studios of the Tarragon. In its history it has fostered a great number of emerging artists who now work professionally in the Toronto theatre industry. This year is a very different year with a new artistic producer, Rob Kempson, and a primarily new executive staff including myself. The branding of the Festival has shifted significantly and there are several new initiatives, one of which includes an Alumni program that showcases work from artists over the age of 21 who have been in Paprika from past years.  It’s an evolving festival and one that I’m proud to see grow.

Something that has become a crucial mission for this new team of producers behind this festival, is how the artists involved are being recognized, as artists. Paprika is a charity in terms of being a charitable organization, but it is not a charity in terms of saving “at risk youth” by putting them in drama class. This isn’t to say that “at risk youth” are not valued, it simply isn’t the focus for this festival. There are many organizations who cater to these community members by offering programs that keep young people involved in creative pursuits. As new producers of this Festival, we have been battling an odd stigma about what goes on at Paprika. There is a stigma that we help “youth” by getting them to do drama pieces and therefore the work is not good, it’s just a bunch of kids. Not true. We figure that anyone in this program is here to become the next wave of professionals in the Canadian theatre scene and for this we treat them as such: artists. They’re asked that their work be personal and that they continually push themselves to try new creative methods. This is all in thanks to our professional Mentors who, on embarrassingly small salaries, guide the participants throughout the year.  I think we’re beginning to change how many view what this organization is, and that’s pretty great.

The work that I have seen so far from the artists in this Festival is honest, brave and committed. There is a wonderful energy that they’re bringing to the Tarragon and I think our Adjudicators are taking note. Daniel MacIvor, our Adjudicator on opening night said something along the lines of “I don’t know what’s going on at this Festival, but someone is doing something right, the work is fantastic”. Come check it out for yourself, it’s still on until Saturday March 27th. Every night at 8:00pm in the Near studio of the Tarragon. Also not to be missed is the Studio-Cabaret series beginning at 9:30pm each night featuring bands and performances by a range of amazing artists.  You should see the Cabaret space, designed by Robin Fisher… it looks sexy.

Also you should know that SummerWorks own Michael Rubenfeld is a mentor for one of the productions this year, a play entitled “Thinking Too Hard” by Ben Gilgan. I saw it last night and it was very funny. Hope you can come on out!

www.paprikafestival.com

DD

The revolution will be back after these messages…

Blogggggeroooooonnnnnyyyyyyyyy!!!!!

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so I figured a video would be worth a google.   Today I launch episode one of “Home Movies by Me”.  I wanted to talk to people who don’t regularly go to the theatre and find out why.  I thought I would start with my father.  Enjoy (and no I don’t fancy myself a filmmaker so you’ll have to endure the choppiness and uninspired cinematography)  xoLZ

HIVE full of BUSY BEEZ

Heya I’m in Vancouver right now for Hive 3 and if you don’t know what that is, you must try and see it some day. It’s essentially a group of about 12 west coast theatre companies who banded together to create a joint interactive theatre experience. This is their 3rd time round with the event and it’s truly a sight to see. For a theatre community so badly hit by government cuts, these guys have their shit together. The production elements of these short performance works involve intricate use of sound, lighting and interactivity within miniature worlds fully realized in both costume and set. There’s nothing minimalist about these pieces, but there’s also nothing excessive about them either.

A particular work by the Electric Company Theatre, (you might have seen their  co-production with Nightwood of No Exit in Toronto last fall directed by Kim Collier) has an audience capacity of 1 person.  This person is led through a short live performance viewed through a miniature picture viewer. The actors perform the play while an SM controls what you see by rolling you around on a dolly. It truly blurs the lines between film and live theatre, leaving me questioning how both can be one thing at one time. My description of it fails to capture what the experience is like, but let’s just say it’s groundbreaking work. Works like this and many others continually play with the idea of what an audience member’s role should be. It’s also important to note that getting in to see a show is a mystery to itself. Often you won’t be able to see a piece unless a company member gives you a prop to hold, involuntarily pulls you into the action or coerces you through some other means. You’ve got to keep your eyes open and move quickly, oh and be sure to down your drink first, some didn’t and found themselves with a beer on their lap when they thought it a good idea to join a piece that had audience learning choreography.

For me it was valuable to see a different community of theatre goers. I was a stranger there among a room full of friends. Which I bet it must be like for people who come from out of town to see shows in Toronto. We’re tightly nit within the theatrical community made up of producers, artists, administrators, theatre students and media types. Unless you’re say, something of a figure head, an Artistic Director for example, your name doesn’t have much clout across boarders.  Ken Cameron (The Magnetic North Artistic Director who kindly tied an apron around me pre-entering a show) was a presence that night. But overall it felt like a uniquely west coast crowd. I wonder if there are more ways we can build a dialogue across such reserved communities.  Hive seems like a good way to make this connection, given its relaxed atmosphere and booze-lubricated social spaces.  I certainly had a few conversations with strangers. It’s just a matter of getting more Toronto types out there and more west coaster types over here.

That’s all on my experience so far. I’ll be seeing some other shows today including a work by another sexy west coast group, Kokoro Dance. I’m aiming to be back at Hive tomorrow night to catch the couple pieces I missed. See www.buzzbuzzbuzz.ca for more info.

From Vancouver, “Dan Dan” out.

FREE FALL FESTIVAL – SPECIAL SUMMERWORKS OFFER!

On behalf of the Free Fall festival in partnership with Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage:
The Theatre Centre wants to extend Special Offer to their friends at SummerWorks.
Save money on two great shows:
The Bob and Becky Cabaret: Award-winning composer Bob Wiseman co-curates for the first time with award-winning clown, comedian, playwright and performance artist Becky Johnson.
Saturday March 20 at 9pm at The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen Street West
Only $8.00* (normally $10)


I’m So Close... Why Not Theatre present their newly devised, physical, tragic comedy – a heartbreaking love song, droned out by the hum of the technological landscape that is bringing us together and pushing us apart. Why Not Theatre hailed by NOW magazine as “artists to watch” and winners of the Spotlight Award at the 2008 Summerworks Festival.

March 23 at 8pm, March 24 at 8.30pm, March 26 at 7pm, March 27 at 9pm, March 28 at 2pm at The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen Street West

Only $12.00* (normally $20)

Simply email boxoffice@theatrecentre.org and cite the promo code: BB-SW or WHY:SW
(please include your name and phone number so a box office representative can call you to finalize your order) *A $1 Facility Fee per ticket and a $1 transaction fee applies for all orders.

FREE FALL ’10 – is a biennial festival celebrating innovation and risk in performance.  This year sees nine new works by leading artists – emerging and established – from across Canada.

OTHER PACKAGE DEALS FOR FREE FALL:
Emerging Artist Package: see 3 shows for $35 (One Reed Theatre, The Chop Theatre and Why Not Theatre) Call The Theatre Centre box office at 416.538.0988 to order this package.
Out-Of-Towner Special: see either The Chop Theatre (Vancouver) or Bill James / Atlas Moves Watching (Peterborough) and get $10 off Theatre Junction (Calgary) when you show your ticket stub at the Harbourfront Centre box office.
Festival Pass: see up to seven shows for $60. Passes can only be ordered by phone, by calling Harbourfront Cenre at 416.973.4000.

More Information on Free Fall www.theatrecentre.org or www.harbourfrontcentre.com

The Revolution is curious…about you!

Riding the high of having had the honour of seeing “Blind Date” by Rebecca Northan…

I ask you, one and all, what are your top 10 pivotal theatre moments? Those moments when you knew you wanted to be in the theatre bubble forever? When you hoped the show would never end? When you witnessed such delightful danger that you had a hard time staying seated?

Tell me Tell me Tell me!!!!!!!

xoLZ