blah blah blah

These days I blame everything on my allergies.

How could I not when I wake up every morning to another day of full body Itching, g-force sneezing, Aerius induced depression, a general lack of energy that can only be described as fatigue/exhaustion/lethargy (yes I do require all 3 words)?   These symptoms do fluctuate with the various “homeopathic” concoctions I mix every morning (a dash of stinging nettle, some Gingko Biloba, no name pellets and half a Claritin for flavour) but what seems to be unwaveringly clinging to me lately, aside from itchy eyes and insanity, is artistic apathy.  I seem to lack the will to engage in anything remotely theatrical which is ill timed considering that the city seems to be offering quite a slew of lovely theatrical morsels* these days for a change.  I, on the other hand, keeping daydreaming of getting on a plane and leaving town for a few months.  Ay there’s the rub…theatre doesn’t pay me enough to leave.  I am now pointing a finger in my own face and maniacally laughing.

I will drag myself to all these shows because I know that once I am there I will be happy.  I will force myself to keep up with “the scene”.  I will will myself to ponder artistic things because I can’t help it no matter how cranky I feel but really I just want to find time to see the allusive cherry blossoms in High Park before they die.

Ok…this is not High Park but it is cool.

And here are the morsels:

1)  If We Were Birds by Erin Shields (my personally favourite show from SummerWorks 2008 – if you haven’t seen it yet GO) Tarragon Theatre, until May 23rd

2) This is what happens next by Daniel MacIvor, (I don’t know about you but Mr. MacIvor is on my list of “people I would watch read the phonebook”) Necessary Angel at Canstage, Berkeley until May 8th

3) Canstage festival of ideas and Creations May 10-22

xoUncle Lindy

Getting it Right

I like to believe that I do my very best to “get it right”, but I know that I don’t know myself well enough to know if I’m doing anything right at all. Of course “right” is subjective, it is one side of the political scale and it is also a direction aaand it is also one side of my body… “right” is a lot of things.  I could just not do anything at all and then no one could determine what I was getting right or wrong.  I could throw myself out into an audience and make an absolute ass of myself and just not care. Then it wouldn’t matter what anyone thought… but I guess I’m still giving them a thought to have.

Why do I fear putting myself out there? Sometimes I feel content sitting at home folding paper and addressing envelopes. I know I can get this right. No one can judge the unknown. Actually you can judge the unknown. You can determine that whatever is unknown is unlikable because it won’t reveal itself, so you hate it. Fuck you unknown! Ah shucks unknown, you also excite me, you’re kind of what keeps me going each day. If I actually knew everything I would just give up and hang myself. There would be no need to keep searching for something new. I’d know it all, I’d know the course of my life, who I might fall in love with, where we’d live, where we’d die.

Instead I don’t know these things and I am happy to let life lead me by the nose. I can also create expectation in others by setting up other unknowns. Theatre is my tool for this. I can excite people by giving them just enough that they want more. I can play with lights and sound and performance. People want to see people. They want to see all the things in the human experience on display to remind them that they are normal. It’s reassuring to know that someone likes the same book, or the same pair of shoes. That’s who I’ll probably fall in love with…

DD

Chapter the Tenth: What’s a revolution without some noise?

For the past two weeks, I have been dragging (literally dragging) my ass to the Sears Drama Festival.  It didn’t start off that way.  I was initially skipping but after only one evening it became dragging.  Not to begrudge drama (staged not hallway) at the high school level but I expected more.  What I expected had little to do with whether I thought I was going to experience quality theatre but more to do with the air.  I was hoping to breathe in that air of juvenile jitters, hyper stage fright and all the delightful hilarity that may go along with that but what I got was young professional swimming in melodrama worthy of Greek tragedy.  I saw plays about very mature subject matter, written by clearly self-aware teenagers with same self-aware teenagers being cast in roles far beyond their age/maturity range and for the most part doing an excellent job at that but I was bored.  I think I unfairly assumed that I was going to see juvenile things but what I was excited about was the joy that comes along with that, the joy that some of my cynical bitter artist peers sorely lack these days.  High School drama is apparently very serious now and yes I do appreciate that since my high school drama class was taught by whatever teacher returned from nervous breakdown sabbatical and needed an easy class BUT for the seriousness did we trade in the joy of being on stage?  I wanted to see kids being kids but I saw kids who were so removed from their childhood that they were “acting” as kids.

On the flip side, what was great about being at the festival though was experiencing a high school audience.  High school kids don’t sit through plays in silence.  They are quite active and vocal in their reactions to absolutely everything.  While I initially found myself irritated by this, I slowly grew to enjoy the murmured commentary behind me because it was really a true reaction by kids being so involved with what was happening on stage and I found joy in being among people who didn’t know “the rules” of theatre.

xoL

– Not to worry folks.  I did find two great Sears shows to bring to SummerWorks. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Rituals at the Theatre

I see a lot of theatre in any given month. My personal habit is to arrive early and hit up the lobby bar for a coffee and probably a cookie. Not all theatres have very good coffee or even good cookies, I won’t name names, but you know who you are.  In any case I will buy willingly because it’s partly a habit and somehow I feel like I’m contributing to the theatre, even though I dropped $40 on the tickets! Another reason for this tradition of mine is that it’s always fun to chug your coffee when the ushers start urging you to take your seat. I like competing with the guy next to me who has to finish a whole beer. I know that my buzz will last longer than his and he’ll likely fall asleep by intermission.  It’s too bad coffee is hot because this makes it difficult to drink quickly …hook it to my veins!  …this is, of course, my symptom in a culture of consumption, which I’ll bring up again shortly.

What am I talking about? A little ritual. This coffee and cookie thing is my ritual before and/or during the show. Some people show up early to get a good seat and read the entire program. Others show up as late as possible to avoid the awkward silence. Some, I’m sure, don’t give rituals more than a thought, which is where I take issue. Even though my ritual is relatively insignificant, I’m consciously thinking about the nature of our behaviour at an event as public as theatre. It’s not like going to the movies where no one can see you in the dark of a cinema sucking back that super-size cola and snorting M&M’s. Theatre is so public that it explains why many people likely don’t come to see theatre, or other live cultural events, it takes effort… shit.  I’m not going to belabour the various facets of live theatre versus other forms of entertainment, but I do want to talk about the lost rituals of our community.

Art seems to be such a marginal aspect of many people’s lives. Our culture in North America doesn’t set a lot of value in the production of art as a necessary activity. It’s poorly discarded as a freakin hobby when it needs to be seen as a necessary aspect of living. If we had a better connection with the land we live on, we might feel more inspired to create art for survival. If only we could follow art as faithfully as we might follow a religion, then it wouldn’t be taken for granted. I’m saying this with the assumption that we all, somehow, subscribe to a single culture, when clearly North America is made up of thousands of cultures. I’m taking issue specifically with our culture of consumption. What are the things that excite and fascinate us that we feel we must consume? This culture is about consuming whatever can be sold to us, which is easy because we generate the demand.

So what happened to the culture of ritual practice? Something I am dreaming up, where we don’t have time for excessive consumption, but instead we focus our energy in taking part in a ritual. How about the ritual of seeing live performance? It requires a community to come together to witness stories about themselves and otherness. It’s a learning experience where everyone feels comfortable in public. The tradition here might be to sing a song or do a dance before the show, or maybe just to sit and discuss something. It certainly sounds more appealing to me than buying a coffee and cookie to get me through the long darkness of theatre today.

DD

Call for Submission – Nightswimming’s Pure Research

Call for Submissions
Nightswimming’s Pure Research – Toronto 2010
Deadline: postmarked or hand delivered by Monday May 3, 2010

Please post or forward

October 18 – 24, 2010
In association with the University of Toronto Graduate Centre for Study of Drama
There are few places in Canada where in-depth theatrical research can be explored, outside an academic course of study and without the pressure of developing or performing a new work. Nightswimming’s unique Pure Research program provides space, money and resources to artists who are pursuing provocative theatrical questions.
Now in its sixth edition, Pure Research is designed to foster theatrical experiments that are not specifically linked to the creation of new work. In the spirit of inquiry, we want you to tell us what you don’t know, and how you might be able to answer your questions through a Pure Research workshop.
What does that mean? If you have a theatrical question, and can pose it in terms of an experiment, then we’re interested. We will supply studio space for up to three days, a $1000 fee for the lead researcher and a modest budget for artists and materials.

Note: In 2011 Nightswimming will be launching Pure Research as a national program. Watch for announcements of Pure Research sessions to be held in Edmonton at the University of Alberta’s Canadian Centre for Theatre Creation, and in Vancouver at SFU Contemporary Arts. Calls for Submissions for those regions will be posted in late 2010.

All Pure Research Toronto sessions are conducted at the Drama Centre’s Glen Morris Studio Theatre and must include graduate students as participants, observers and/or documenters. Details of student involvement are determined in consultation with the Drama Centre and the researchers upon acceptance into Pure Research. All projects are documented and the results posted on Nightswimming’s website. Researchers are required to submit a full report within one month of completing their experiment. Nightswimming staff will be present to observe and offer assistance as required.

The Details:
Pure Research Submission Process
We need a concise but detailed proposal outlining:

•        your question and what you want to learn from it
•        how you intend to conduct the experiment – this is the most important section of the application
•        practical details such as time, people and equipment required
•        any relevant support material such as text or prior research

We are particularly interested in:

•        artists who view research and development as a long-term process,
rather than simply as a short-cut to production
•        integration of sound, movement, technology and text;
exploring poetic or stylized text in any form or genre
•        an artistic spirit of inquiry

What to send us:

•        a cover letter introducing yourself and defining the application: preferred dates, amount of time requested
estimated budget, specific goals
•        a project description – two page maximum
•        c.v. of principal artist and a list of collaborators, if known
•        videos: only to introduce us to physical artists
please provide a brief explanation of where and when the video was shot
•        do not send press clippings, photos, programs, press kits or folders

Also:

•        Remember that it is not a developmental workshop for a new performance piece
•        be honest about what you know, what you don’t know, what you want, and what you’d like to achieve
•        before making our final decisions we may contact those whose submissions intrigue us;
we may ask short-listed applicants for further information or a more detailed proposal
•        all applicants will be informed of results by mail in June 2010. Please provide a self-addressed,
stamped envelope if you want your material returned
•        applications from artists outside Ontario are welcomed, but the realities of our budget means
we will focus on Ontario-based submissions for this edition
•        the dates October 18 – 24 are not negotiable, although which 3 days within that week you use
will be determined in consultation with all the successful researchers

note: applications will not be accepted by email or fax

Please drop off or send applications to:

Nightswimming
55 Mill Street, #310 Building 74,
Toronto, ON, M5A 3C4, Canada

Thank you for your interest in Pure Research. We look forward to reading your application.

Nightswimming is a dramaturgical company dedicated to exploring the boundaries of dramaturgy and performance. We commission and develop new works of theatre, dance and music. For more information, or if you have questions about applying, contact us at www.nightswimmingtheatre.com or 416 703 5491.

110 days until SW2010!

This Monday is the New last Monday and the current Monday to make a super MONDAY!

Sorry for making you wait a whole extra week for my witty words but sometimes no news is good news…which is a (not at all) euphemism for allergies took over my body and I couldn’t type while sneezing.

Anyways (to misuse a segue)

You may have heard.  You may have read. The Official word came down from high above.  The chosen were chosen.  The tears of joy and pain leaked.  The list of shows for the 2010 festival was made official!

And just when those lucky few thought their lives just couldn’t get any better, they got an e-mail from me, blogmistress/gamemaster (my own euphemism for well rounded asshole….a pun my father would be proud of) asking them for the first WORD that popped into their mind-mouth when they heard the news and then I made those words into the poem they wanted to be…and by poem I mean paragraph of repetition.

I call this first WORD on 2010:

Fuck BLAM-O Yowza ¡VIVA! Employment! Ooh! Shazam! Yay!!! RelievedLoveWelcomeQueasyGratitude. Hooray. Woot. Zeus. Endgame. Yes. Kowabunga.  Yikes. Hooray. Aaaaahhhhhh!!!! Speechless. Word. CYCLES. Whoa Fuck BLAM-O Yowza ¡VIVA! Employment! Ooh! Shazam! Yay!!! RelievedLoveWelcomeQueasyGratitude. Hooray. Woot. Zeus. Endgame. Yes. Kowabunga.  Yikes. Hooray. Aaaaahhhhhh!!!! Speechless. Word. CYCLES. Whoa Fuck BLAM-O Yowza ¡VIVA! Employment! Ooh! Shazam! Yay!!! RelievedLoveWelcomeQueasyGratitude. Hooray. Woot. Zeus. Endgame. Yes. Kowabunga.  Yikes. Hooray. Aaaaahhhhhh!!!! Speechless. Word. CYCLES. Whoa Fuck BLAM-O Yowza ¡VIVA! Employment! Ooh! Shazam! Yay!!! RelievedLoveWelcomeQueasyGratitude. Hooray. Woot. Zeus. Endgame. Yes. Kowabunga.  Yikes. Hooray. Aaaaahhhhhh!!!! Speechless. Word. CYCLES. Whoa

xoL

Sidebar (or bottom bar):

This past week I spent 3 nights at the Sears Drama festival watching plays written and directed by high school students…

High School is very different from when I went there.

Discussing theatre with some great minds

I recently had the opportunity to attend a salon and by salon I’m referring to a gathering of minds to further a knowledge base through dialogue. I was fortunate enough to attend this salon with 3 members equally passionate about the arts and the difficulties of producing in the arts. This included Tim Maly, Jacob Zimmer and Morgan Norwich. We talked about many different issues in areas of politics, economics, popular culture etc. There was even talk about the state of contemporary theatre in terms of the rituals that surround it. Can we return to an earlier time when theatre wasn’t such a precious occurrence? The audiences of Shakespeare didn’t come just for the “play”. They came for the gambling, the prostitution and the drink. The play was merely one part of the experience and if it wasn’t powerful enough to win over a loud and boisterous crowd then it wasn’t doing its job. By the end of the 19th century theatre had become high-class entertainment, the focus of the evening. Once we had the light bulb, audiences were plunged into darkness giving up full attention to the play. One question that came up in our discussion was: can we ever go back?

Our actual focus for this meeting was on the many outlandish ways of making money. If you begin a list of different approaches to making money, you’ll start with some typical ideas, fundraisers, special events, but eventually you’ll move into the realm of some un-tested methods. Try it, just keep listing the crazy ideas that you can think up. It’s not easy, but the result is surprising. We were able to tally a long list of different approaches to making money, not all were necessarily new ideas, but the discussion that sprang from each proved to be very insightful.

How creative can artists get when it comes to funding their art? Shouldn’t the act of fundraising be a creative pursuit, just as much as the pursuit of creating the art? Government funding is decreasing and private foundations are tightening their belts. How can we find more self-sufficient ways to build the funds we need? A sexy car-wash, $5 a scrub? (no Mom, you can’t wear that outfit!) Or maybe something long-term similar to building a donor base.

From this first meeting we will take the recorded information and build upon it. The hope is to set goals for each person within the group. These goals can include conducting research on specific issues to longer project goals that might not be easily completed on our own. Everyone is busy in their personal work and it can be an immense struggle to find time for developmental research. However, if the work load is shared, and if deadlines are set, together we might be able to explore issues that would normally seem daunting. This is why the salon exists.

Looking forward to our next meeting, the salon is growing.

Oh and check out some great websites:

http://quietbabylon.com/

http://smallwoodenshoe.org/2010/

http://www.nobodysbusiness.ca/

DD