It’s been a quite a while since I last posted an entry. Toward the end of last year, I was totally consumed with completing the onerous Teacher Resource document for our textbook Rattling the Stage. Both the book and TR are now available and can be purchased online at http://www.mcgrawhill.ca/school/explore/9780071066983/ilit+rattling+the+stage:+a+collection+of+monologues,+spoken+word,+and+short+plays/ One of our iLit series was made into an iBook with Apple, and plans are underway to do the same with the rest of the series.
I’m currently directing a new play for the New Ideas Festival: http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/ideas.html Pieces of Penelope, was written by Gina Femia from New York and selected by the festival jury. I am incredibly fortunate to have been matched with my first choice of plays (there are twelve productions and three readings over a three week period in March.) After I made my submission, I realized that I had chosen what may be the most complex and challenging of all the plays. Nonetheless, it was the lyricism and theatricality that attracted me. Gina’s writing is somewhat reminiscent of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice; it is a mixture of “feminist and fabulist”. Auditions and callbacks were intense. There was so much talent, Robin Munro my AD and I were able to fully focus on finding precisely the right actor for each role. Casting will be announced in the next few days and rehearsals begin February 1st. I’m also so thrilled that classical composer Alan Torok will be creating an original score for the piece.
Yesterday I received two completely different calls about the same topic. The first call was from an actor we called back for Pieces of Penelope. She asked for constructive criticism regarding her audition. She’s already an experienced and trained actor but is sincerely interested in getting feedback to help her further develop her auditioning skills. Too few actors have the resolve and courage to ask for criticism. The second was a call initiated from an email from a total stranger. She was a parent who’d googled information about auditioning for the Claude Watson Arts Program and found my website. I was so excited to hear that people are finding the site (it doesn’t take much to excite me) that I happily answered all her questions about the program and the auditions. The most important thing I could tell both parties was to ENJOY. If you as an actor can find joy in your audition – even when delivering a dark monologue – you’ll be so much more interesting, alive and vibrant.
Last week I submitted my first “pitch” to direct a play that goes up in the summer. I don’t want jinx myself but I fell in love with the writing which (ironically) happens to be the very antithesis of Pieces of Penelope. This is a play with men, about men, for men. It is dark, violent and at times, savagely funny. I would LOVE to work on it for that very reason and I hope the pitch will convince the producer and playwright that adding my feminine insights and instincts to such a testosterone-driven work is exactly what is needed. My creative juices are flowing and my fingers and toes are all crossed.
Finally I had the pleasure meeting with the founders of Eclat Arts http://eclat-arts.com/ This is a private summer school studio offering enriched credit courses for impassioned drama students. Unlike many other summer school programs and camps, Michael Laidlaw and Mary Barnes Amoroso have created a conservatory program with high standards and high expectations and also a substantial number of scholarships and bursaries available. For those interested, courses include playwriting, improvisation and acting, Director’s Craft, and a Production course. Their creative board, teaching and guest artist roster contains some of the finest theatre artists in the city including Fiona Boyd, Cameron Porteus and Andrew Lamb. I’m very proud to join up with Eclat ensemble and very much look forward to working with them and their students in the summer.
Before I retired I was afraid I’d no longer have the opportunities to exercise my artistic chops. As the saying goes, use it or lose it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s nothing like jumping out of one’s little pond and diving head first into another one that’s bigger and deeper. I’m so looking forward to working on these projects and many others throughout the year. I wish you the same.
Happy new year!