No Satisfaction

On Saturday, I will be performing once more in Roller Derby Saved My Soul for the University of Ottawa's Alumni Week (tickets are on sale now and available to the general public). I feel proud to have been invited to come back to my alma mater with this production.

It's been almost 2 years since I wore my roller skates on stage. Last week, director Tania Levy and I had a read-through of the play and afterwards I felt unsettled. Monday night, on my way to rehearsal, that feeling grew. I felt sleepy. I got a headache. I was flustered. I didn't know what was going on.

Then it hit me: I wasn't happy with the show. Again. Some more.

Having spent the past 4 months in writing workshops, it's interesting to come back to a script you put to bed a couple years ago. Distance gives you perspective and that's a powerful thing. 

Instead of blocking the show with Tania, we sat down and started cutting the fat. Clunky exposition here. Too many "Justs" and "Wells" and "Ums" (yes, they were written into the script) there. Heck, there are even some sound cues we're taking out. And as of last night, I finally fixed an area of the show that had been bothering me since, well, since the last time I revamped the show.

Tania, bless her, knows me well and always indulges me in these moods because she knows the show always ends up stronger for it in the end. 

Am I ever done?  An important realization for me is that my work can always go further deeper and I'm grateful to be a writer/performer. It gives me the freedom to keep exploring. 

So, am I ever done? 

Not if I can help it.

Roller Derby Saved My Soul coming to OttawaOrlando and Victoria this summer.

Happy Birthday to Me

Photo Credit: aotaro via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: aotaro via Compfight cc

The week I turn 35, I also celebrate four months of sobriety. People ask me why I stopped drinking and I have a slew of typical answers from health to finances, but it really boils down to one thing: feelings.

I loved him. I still do. But he never did. Not in the same way. It's an all too common story. Finally, after months of pulling back, he ended it with a phone call. 

I was sad. 

I didn't like feeling sad so I drank the sad away. It worked for a little bit. Then it stopped. So I drank more. That worked for a little bit more. Then it stopped. So I drank even more. Latter. Rinse. Repeat.

Then, on New Year's Eve, I heard news I didn't want to hear, the floodgates opened, and everything I had been drinking and avoided feeling came roaring back up to the surface.

While I celebrated the New Year on my bathroom floor, I felt an odd sense of relief at this purge. 

I realized I had been drinking in order to uphold all the lies I had been living. So I made myself a promise that I wouldn't do it for a whole year, just to see what would happen. A year felt like a really long time so I thought I would try it for a month. That also seemed hard so remembering what I knew from a show I did about AA, I took it one day at a time.

It's not always easy. Some days are harder than others. But here I am, four months later, well on my way to a year.

I get asked all the time if I feel better. For the first three months, I didn't really notice anything different. Of course, you never see the forest for the trees.

It's unfair to pin this all on him. It's not his fault. He is living his humanity the best way he knows how. But his presence, his actions, were a catalyst that opened up some deep rooted issues that I am now able to clean up. For that, I am grateful.

My focus has changed. I'm more creative. I write more. I love my acting classes. 

I deal with feelings better now. I look at my life without the mask of alcohol. I'm finding out who I am instead of pretending to be someone I'm not in the hopes it's what he might want. 

It's not. I'm not what he wants and I'm slowly learning to be ok with that.

Because I want me. And that's all that really matters.

 

FOMO On the Fringe

The interesting thing about producing a film you appear in rather than a theatre production is that you don't have to be there when it is screened. This kicks up my Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO if you're nasty) anxiety in a pretty big way.

Last night, we had our first test screening of On the Fringe in Vancouver. I unfortunately was not there in person and, due to a few technical glitches, was unable to Skype in for the event. So I did what any sensible woman would do: I threw myself into Netflix and the comfortingly arrogant embrace of Ryan Reynolds.

From what I hear on the interwebs however the screening went very well. I will be touching base with my team today to hear more and I honestly can't wait!

Home Alone

My tour of The Little Prince has finally come to an end. For the first time in what feels like months, I am home alone. No roommates, no touring partners, not sleeping on someone's couch or futon. Granted it's not my own home; I haven't abandoned my hobo ways after all. I am sleeping in a real bed tonight, which is lovely but it feels weird. Possibly because I am having a threesome with Frank & Claire Underwood at the moment and they are not the kind of people who cuddle with you on the couch afterwards. 

I'm trying to enjoy the peaceful moments before the craziness of the summer kicks into high gear. And boy is it going to be a doozy!

More on that in another post as I get back to my regularly blogging schedule.

 

Back on Track... Sort Of

          Good thing because there is a lot of it here.

          Good thing because there is a lot of it here.

I'm now fully settled into life in Vancouver - in the mornings I'm woken up at 7:30 on the dot by the lovely construction workers outside my window and I night I fall asleep as the walls shake due to an overabundance of bass on what I can only assume is the deaf woman's TV next door. 

Bliss?

On the bright side, the mercury never dips below 5 degrees. 

 

We've started rehearsals for The Little Prince. Performing in a new script last year, Tara and I quickly discovered kinks and bugs once we found ourselves in front of an audience, but we were unable to make any major changes without the writer/director present. It's not only nice to revisit the script but also make what are turning into some fairly substantial rewrites. I think the show is going to be much stronger this time around.

I can now officially announce that after more than two years Roller Derby Saved My Soul is coming back to Ottawa for a special presentation during the University of Ottawa's Alumni Week on May 7th. Tickets are open to the public and an absolute steal at $10. If you are one of those people who has never seen the show (or one who saw a very different early incarnation) this is likely your last chance to see it in town. I've got a couple other bookings lined up as well so stay tuned for that if you live elsewhere. I think I might retire the show at the end of the year. I'm moving on to other creative pursuits these days and that's where my heart is ... unless someone makes me a really good offer to put on my skates. Because money. 

                                 I bought 3.

                                 I bought 3.

Speaking of those other creative pursuits, my new script is so close to being done I can almost taste it. So of course resistance creeps in and I want to do anything but work on it - hence why a blog post finally pops up. My writing workshop has been key in keeping the momentum going, which is a good thing since many summer festivals are now asking for technical and promotional information. I'm not ready to divulge that info publicly yet, but if you're wondering where you might get to see this new show, the folks at the London, Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringes are going to get first dibs. Ottawa is also looking like a strong possibility as well. 

Finally, in other things that are so so close, On the Fringe is almost there. We're already taking summer bookings and I've got a big meeting on Saturday to go over where we're at. 

These are exciting and thrilling times. I can't believe how quickly my year has filled up with my own creative pursuits and how this summer is turning into another mega tour. I wish I had the funds to hire an assistant to help me keep everything straight because I worry a ball is going to get dropped somewhere. Well, at least I'm up early enough every day to work on it all.



Writer's Retreat

Photo Credit: STEELHOP via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: STEELHOP via Compfight cc

In less than an hour, I will be boarding a VIA Rail train that will take me from Toronto to Vancouver, which will be my home base for the next three months as I return to The Little Prince with Monster Theatre. I will be spending 3 to 4 days without an internet connection. I plan to take full advantage of this time to complete a first draft of what will be a new show to premiere this summer on the Fringe Festival circuit. And for the first time in a long time, I am incredibly excited at the possibilities before me.

If you had asked me a month ago, I would have been a bundle of nerves at creating something new. It took me about 3 years to develop a working production of Roller Derby Saved My Soul and I felt daunted by the 6 months from winning the various Fringe lotteries to stage time before me. But that was before my writing workshops. I've written more this past January than I did in the entirety of 2015. And the pieces of a story are actually coming together!

You guys, I think I can actually do this.

Wish me luck!

For those of you interested in the workshop I've been taking, please see the details below and contact Claudia for more information.

This just in! The FEBRUARY session for the ORGANIC WRITING PROCESS will take place in MONTREAL this month on SATURDAYS from 9am-3pm FEB 6, 13, 20 & MARCH 6 (Note: No class on Feb 27 due to NYC writing/play excursion) -- with the exception of January writing students who have been emailed directly -- the fee for this session is $325 or $250 for students traveling from Ottawa or Toronto and/or students studying in the LS & CO session in Montreal. If you wish to participate, please send in your $150 deposits or full payments ASAP to actottawa@gmail.com - final deposit deadline is Feb 1st. First day assignments will be sent out upon receipt of your deposit!

 

Your Own Personal Carmen Sandiego

You'd think a troupe of plucky geographically challenged pre-teens were after me. One day this month I woke up in Toronto, travelled to Montreal, and went to sleep in Ottawa. I don't know what day of the week it is anymore. This is my new normal.

I'm taking acting classes and writing workshops. I promised myself I would go further deeper in my work as an artist. What better time than a new year to begin again? This has meant throwing myself completely out of my comfort zone. Push through the resistance. And there's been a lot of resistance. I'm living out of a small suitcase and showers are a pretty luxury. I haven't slept in a real bed or had a drop of alcohol in three weeks. There's been no time to think, to stop and build up excuses and defences. I'm tired, I'm unsettled, the walls are down. I'm vulnerable and emotional. My heart is open. And art is getting made.

What will come of it? I don't know. This isn't about result, it's about process.

Don't try to find me right now. I don't want to be found. 

Just know that I'm happy.

Xo

I've Got A Blank Page Baby

6281777611_42971b69d5.jpg

For the past two days, I was in a writing workshop with Judith Thompson, the grand dame of Canadian theatre. I’ve been a fan of her work for quite some time now and when this opportunity came up, in Ottawa no less, it was something I just couldn’t pass up. I’ve been scared to write a new show.

Roller Derby Saved My Soul has been so good to me, but I definitely feel the need to do something new. After the 2014 summer Fringe tour, I was exhausted and needed a break, but I think a small part of me was grateful for this legitimate excuse to not write. If I wasn’t going to tour in 2015, I didn’t need to create anything else.

Which is a crock of shit, I know. I don’t need to have a specific reason to write, but deadlines sure do help.

This year, I decided to let Fate decide. I applied to all the Fringes again. As of writing this, I’ve already been accepted into two of them: London and Edmonton. And just like that, I need a new show.

The thing is, at any given time, I feel like I have 4 shows dancing around in my head so I put a lot of pressure on myself in order to choose the “right” one to work on. This, in case you didn’t know, is a perfect way to paralyze yourself and not write.

Which brings me back to the workshop.

I don’t think I’ve never spent so much time consistently writing something that wasn’t a grant application in all my life. I usually write creatively in fits and spurts whenever inspiration hits. This was two consistent days of inspiration leading to massive bursts of creativity. And I’m in such a zone I just want to keep writing more and more. I can edit and polish it all up later.

Another necessary writer's tool.

I learned some incredible tools to just get me writing but the beauty of this workshop was that it also gave me incredible appreciation, as an actor, for the work of the playwright. I know this is something that should be a given, but I think I often take the writer’s words for granted, including my own. I spew out lines by rote and maybe paraphrase a think or two. I always knew that actors have to make it personal, but I never thought about what went into choosing that specific text or line of dialogue. As we read each other’s work a loud in class, I finally truly understood how special each word written on the page actually is because I knew the story behind its selection.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more writing to do.

 

Feature Image Photo Credit: Ryan.Berry via Compfight cc

Have Movie, Will Travel (Part 2)

On-the-fringe-panoramic.jpg

If you haven't read Part 1 - the Calgary trip - you should check it out now. ***************************************************

What the hell am I doing drinking in LA?

Los Angeles. It's a hell of a town. Don't get me wrong: I love it. I admire it. And I am also respectfully terrified of it.

Cory and I said goodbye to Natalie in Vancouver and arrived at LAX on a Friday. We headed to the delightful Comfort Inn on Santa Monica Blvd. because it offered the "cheapest" rate while still being close enough to the conference. Oh and free breakfast in the morning. With the exchange rate being what it is, having a least one meal covered was a godsend.

We were in town for the American Film Market and Conferences, the self-styled "premiere global marketplace where Hollywood’s decision-makers and trendsetters all gather under one roof." We spend our first night watching Canadian movies on American Netflix and drinking wine and beer we bought at a 24-hour pharmacy.

Because we're classy like that. Sidenote: Cory almost convinced me to buy the jug of wine...

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed innocence the next day, we headed to our first conference: Pitching Essentials. Here we got a great list of do's and dont's when pitching your film project and watched a bunch of pre-selected filmmakers get 2 minutes to woo the panel. We quickly realized that our Fringe experience was going to serve us well in this case as pitching is eerily similar to flyering a line-up.

We then had a great meeting with our production mentor on the documentary, Dale Windle of Aventus Films in Ottawa, who was also in town for the Market to settle some deals on his own projects. Dale has been instrumental in helping us make connections and navigate the business side of filmmaking. Plus he bought us lunch so he's definitely aces in my book!

Since everything was taking place by the Santa Monica pier, we decided to walk the beach and practice our own pitch for some of the meetings we had scheduled throughout the week.

All brainstorming sessions should look like this.

Then we made our way to the Loews Hotel for an introductory session on "How to Work the American Film Market" for first time attendees.

Now, let's talk about the Market. Basically, a week before this gigantic movie market begins, the Loews Hotel empties out all the furniture from every single room in the building. These rooms have all been rented by a variety of movie professionals like distribution companies, sales agents, production companies, film boards, various industry professionals, ect. and are all turned into offices. The. Entire. Building! (And even some in the hotel next door.)

A selection of images to give you an idea what it all looks like.

The entire building is packed and security is super tight. If you do not have your special badge, you are not going anywhere. And sometimes even with the badge you get stopped as Cory and I learned the hard way one evening (don't worry, I charmed our way out of it - story for another day). It's crazy busy, overwhelming and reeks of money and desperate hustle. Every one there has an angle and is looking to make it happen.

As many people were more than happy to tell us, there is no money in documentary films (which frankly I think is debatable because there is money in everything if you just look hard enough), so plenty of folks wanted nothing to do with us on that basis alone. As two Canadians in shorts (because dammit we're in California!) with our little fringe movie, we were at the bottom of the barrel.

On day 2, after a few very humbling experiences at the panels where we felt completely out of our league, we both went our separate ways for a palate cleanse. Cory used our badges to go watch a couple of the movies being screened onsite and I went to audit an acting class. I think we both needed to be around passionate and creative people to remind us why we were doing this in the first place. And it worked!

See here's the magical thing about being at the bottom: there's nowhere to go but up. As an acting teacher once told me, you never want to be at the top of the class. If you are, find another class because you won't learn anything here. So we made a pact to buckle down and learn as much as we could. We attended every panel, met a lot of really cool and interesting people (including a few other documentary filmmakers #represent), and even had some successful meetings with agents and distributors. Oh and we made sure to have some fun because who knows when we might be here again?

Can't you tell we're having fun?!?

We left with a greater understanding and appreciation of the filmmaking process and I am incredibly grateful for the experience.

Like most people who arrive in the City of Angels, we had a few stars in our eyes. Fortunately, we weren't around long enough to have them removed. Because if I learned anything from the barrage of awful posters and film trailers that played on loop in the conference shuttle, our movie is going to be awesome.

You can bank on that.

*

*

*

*

*

Unless you are the actual bank... Please stop calling me.

Have Movie, Will Travel (Part 1)

On-the-fringe-panoramic.jpg

Hey, remember how I produced a documentary about life on the Fringe Festival circuit? Well the updates have been coming in fast and furious on that little baby. We now have a brand new website (CHECK IT OUT!) and an official movie poster! I mean just look at this thing. It's so slick! Design by Petr Maur - Sexy poster modelling by Madeleine Hall

But those are the external items that come with producing your own film. You're probably wondering where things are at now with the movie itself. Well, on November 5th, Natalie Watson, Cory Thibert and I gathered in Calgary for the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals directors' conference to show off what Ottawa Fringe Executive Director Patrick Gauthier dubbed "a very good first draft." - this is probably going to be the official tag line for the film.

Our standard team photo

Guys, we were nervous. Very nervous. Here we were with a project we've been working on for about two years now and showing it off to what could simultaneously be our friendliest and toughest audience.

And it went off really well! We showed about 60 minutes of the film and got some really great feedback afterwards (see above quote from Patrick Gauthier). A bunch of festivals are also super keen and specifically requesting us to bring the film to their town next year.

So what happens now?

Well, we (and by we I mean Natalie) goes back to the editing suite to keep working on the film. We hope to have a solid 90 minute film done in early 2016 for a potential film festival and fringe festival release next year.

While she went back to Vancouver to to that, Cory and I were off to Los Angeles.

To be continued in Part 2...

Fall in Ottawa

145517799_d7abf3453e.jpg

I had an absolutely magical time in New Orleans. It's a phenomenal city and I already know that I want to go back. It's probably understandable then that I felt a little blah on my return to Ottawa. Fortunately, there were some pretty great workshop waiting for me courtesy of the Ottawa Stilt Union and the incredible Martha Ross respectively. Not to mention some awesome theatre thanks to the gang at the Fresh Meat DIY Festival. Don't let the smile fool you, I was terrified at first.

I also started a cleanse, which is not something I ever thought I would do again but that gross heavy feeling of overindulgence from the past few months kind of pushed me to it. I spoke to a few friends who had done one in the past and settled on the Wild Rose. While day 4 was pretty bad, it's been a surprisingly easy experience. It's forced me to get creative in the kitchen, which I love to do, and now on day 10 of 12 I feel pretty awesome.

And I've had some very productive weeks working on the On the Fringe documentary. The updates are coming fast and furious and I cannot wait to share them all with you. Stay tuned for more in the coming days or sign up for my newsletter to find out first!

 

 

Feature image photo credit: MichelleWalz via Compfight cc

Where Would You Go?

3970423254_ba76f935af.jpg

In October of last year, I bought what ended up being an expensive (travel was between Christmas and New Year's Eve to give you an idea) one-way flight to Vancouver for the start of rehearsals on The Little Prince. I later had to make some changes to my flight and ended up with a $700 credit that I had exactly one year from the date of purchase to travel on. Though I have flown in the past year, I never used the credit because the flights were never that much and I didn't want to lose the balance on the credit. It expires at the end of this month.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?

I finally decided it was time to make one of my bucket list dreams come true. On Tuesday, I will be heading down to New Orleans, a place I've dreamed of visiting ever since I found out my childhood crush was from there.

I'm waiting for you, chérie.

I've been fascinated with Cajun culture for years. My mind was blown when I first learned that, not only were they descendants of my deported ancestors, but their name was derived from "Acadiens" (Acadiens became Cadiens became Cajuns).

I've been toying with a new show idea that goes back to my Acadian roots and this flight credit seemed like the perfect opportunity to get in some first hand research.

I'm incredibly excited right now. My home in Ottawa is still rented and a friend hooked me up with a place to stay. I've never been to New Orleans before so if you have any suggestions of things to do or see or eat while I'm down there, please let me know what they are in the comments section below!

Featured Image Photo Credit: Les_Stockton via Compfight cc

Hitting Reset

2759363747_e853b82045.jpg

I've set up shop, like all good 30-somethings, in my Mom's basement. The notion hit me last night as I downed my third beer, a Granville Island Winter Ale I bought last Christmas that my Mom despises which is why it was still in the fridge. Actual photo taken last December.

I've been here for about a week now and I can't begin to tell you how much good it's done. I feel rested and motivated to work. The primary difference from working alone at home is that I know I have to take regular breaks to visit with family so I'm actually getting more done with the time I have. And there's always food in the fridge! What a novel concept.

Would I actually move back in? God no! I also know when not to overstay my welcome and my next adventure begins as early as next week. But in the meantime, this has been a lovely little oasis. A place to reset and put all the pieces into place on future projects. I'm incredibly excited at what's coming down the pipeline and grateful for this opportunity to wrap my head around it all.

Thanks Mom!

I love you.

 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Great Beyond via Compfight cc

Making Contact

2015-09-18-07.39.50-e1442949654714.jpg

A few months ago, I talked about Contact events. Less than a week after writing that post I found out that I had been accepted to Pitch Roller Derby Saved My Soul at Contact East. Typically, when you apply to a Contact event, you are applying to Showcase. A Showcase is a 15-20 minute time slot where you can give presenters an idea of what your production might be like and its potential to tour regional theatres/roadhouses (or soft seaters as the pros call them) across the country and abroad. A Pitch is a 5 minute version of the same thing. Initially I wasn't too keen on doing a Pitch. I won't lie. My ego kind of flared up.

How dare they give me ONLY 5 minutes! Do they not know who I am?

Short answer: No. No they don't. And they don't care. Do you want the 5 minutes or not? Because someone else will take it and they won't be such a whiny baby about it.

Getting over myself, I found that the list of Pros in attending Contact East for a Pitch heavily outweighed the Cons. For one thing, I'd never been to Charlottetown and I'm always up for a new reason to travel. For another, my family lives in Moncton, which is just a short drive away, turning this working trip into a familial visit. Contact East was also much cheaper than the other Contact events I had applied for and all meals were included.

I applied for and received an Audience and Market Development Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which would cover my flight, so Charlottetown was a definite go.

My booth in the Contact Room. Check out the floor. You can bet I was on wheels the entire time.

I landed in Charlottetown at around 5 p.m. on Thursday night, taking the red eye and 3 different planes from Vancouver. I registered as a delegate, checked into my hotel, showered, ate and rushed down to the community centre where the Contact Room was located to set up my booth. I was absolutely thrilled when I found a gym floor, the most perfect of all surfaces to roller skate on. Armoured in short shorts and knee socks, you kind of have to admit that I am hard to miss. From there, we were off to the Opening Reception and Hospitality Suite. I was back in my room by midnight. You'd think I would be exhausted but a combination of adrenaline and possibly jet lag kept me awake. I worked on my pitch for an hour before finally finding some sleep.

At 6 a.m., I was awake, eating breakfast and waiting for my 7 a.m. pickup to take me to my tech rehearsal for the Pitch.

At the time, it seemed impossible to distil the essence of my show, along with touring information, into a 5 minute pitch. I settled on this approach, in costume:

  • 1.5 minute bit from the show
  • Introduction, touring information, possibility of a French tour, community outreach initiatives
  • Heartwarming true story of what this show has meant to people
  • Appeal to come see me in the Contact Room for more information

Well, I fit it all in. Thank you Fringe Festival previews for teaching me the value of being concise.

Now almost lunch time, we boarded a bus for a tour of PEI and a lobster lunch. As luck would have it, the gentleman who sat next to me was a representative for the French equivalent of Contact East in New Brunswick. It turns out there is great interest in a French version of my show, something multiple people have been telling me for years but I hadn't really listened until now.

This made me so happy!

As the adrenaline was now leaving my body. I managed to squeeze in a power nap after our dinner before heading down to my booth in the Contact Room. At this point, I was still unsure if my pitch had any impact, but I could not have been more wrong. The number of compliments I received from various presenters and delegates simply blew me away. When a variety of East Coast presenters approach you with "We want this show," you know you might just be doing something right.

Buzzing from the days events, I made it out to the Hospitality Suite where I had the pleasure of hanging out with a variety of showcasing artists. Apparently we drank them out of beer.

I had plans of waking up early-ish, but a combination of little sleep, jet lag, and just plain ole exhaustion saw to it that my eyes didn't open until 12:30 p.m. Groggy, but determined to make it out to the Confederation Centre for the Arts for their matinee production of Evangeline. It was lovely and, even though I know the story, I cried like a baby.

Quick walk along the harbour to grab a lobster roll and I was back for my last turn in the Contact Room. More positive chats, including one with a tour manager who wants to talk more. Oh and I even sold a shirt!

Throw in free oysters shucked on location at the closing night party and Contact East was a beautiful and resounding success.

Framily Ties

4347413293_cfb76d34e7.jpg

Vancouver *wistful sigh*

From last year's amazing run of Roller Derby Saved My Soul at the Vancouver Fringe to getting nominated for a Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Performance for my work in The Little Prince (which I now realize I never blogged about), the city has always been good to me. But I really wasn't prepared for how great things were going to be this time around.

Dave Grohl is cooler than you or I will ever be.

Seeing the Foo Fighters live from floor seats at Rogers Arena, spending a day at Wreck Beach followed by a rooftop BBQ, catching up with old friends, and working on the documentary (kinda weird that it took a trip to Vancouver for Cory and I to have the time to sit and work together, but in a day we managed to finish most of our lingering grant applications) and the shows! So many Fringe shows! I saw 17 in my short time there and had a blast at every one.

But what really blew me away was the huge outpouring of love I felt from everyone around me. Yes, it's Fringe and we are quite the Framily, but without the stress of producing a show I was able to sit back and watch how much we truly care about each other.

I honestly wish I had taken more pictures.

I sit in the Halifax Airport as I write this, waiting for my flight to Charlottetown where I will be for Contact East until Sunday. Meanwhile, the Fringe plays on in Vancouver until the end of the week. If you are around, please see as many shows as you can and support these amazing artists. I'm sure you will fall as madly in love with every single one of them as I have.

See you every day!

Featured image photo credit: kurichan+ via Compfight cc

Nancy's Must-See List at the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival (Part 2)

2015-09-10-14.51.541.jpg

For those of you who missed Part 1, which contains the list of all the shows I've already seen, you can check it out here  

 

Alright gang, I have a problem. A glorious problem, but a problem nonetheless. There are just too many great looking shows at this year's Vancouver Fringe Festival  for me to see them all before I leave town. This means I have had to do some creative culling when it came to writing this blog post.

The I'm sorry I'm lazy shows

Since I have so little time, chances are I will not be making it out to the Firehall Centre, the Havana, or the Cultch, but that doesn't mean there aren't some great shows playing out there. Early buzz is on James & Jamesy in the DarkTJ's Kitchen, and Mrs. Singh & Me in each venue respectively.

The this has been around for ages and I can't believe I haven't seen it yet shows

I'm lucky that I attend so many festivals. Quite a few shows tour the circuit repeatedly over the years and every once in a while you get a golden opportunity to finally catch it. That's the case for The Most Honest Man in the World. Andrew Wade is the nicest guy and I keep telling him I will see his show in a certain city and every single time I've missed it. I've also heard about Vaudevillian for quite some time and I'm hoping this city will be the one where I will come through. Don't wait until the very last minute to see a show. It's a terrible feeling when you miss it and you talk to the performer after who kindly listens as you apologize but inside you both know you are the asshole. Don't be like me. Don't be the asshole.

The I've got high hopes so please don't disappoint me #nopressure shows

Balance 2.1

This show comes from the same people who brought Anatolia Speaks to the Fringe last year, which I really enjoyed. Plus I'm currently living with her and she made me tea when I was feeling under the weather. When a performer makes you tea, you go see their show. That's the rule.

Chris & Travis

Although Travis is one of the best magicians on the circuit, this show somehow wasn't really on my radar until I saw the Fringe opening event a few nights ago where he and Chris were hosting. Their good natured game of charades to acknowledge the festival sponsors pretty much sold me on the show. See kids! Nonsensical previews do work!

The Exclusion Zone

Martin Dockery is one of the best storytellers out there and I absolutely love it when he pushes himself to go outside the box. Last year's The Dark Fantastic  blew me away and I have a feeling this one will be right up my alley.

Fire in the Meth Lab

From the guy who created Pretending Things are a Cock. Based on the title and the poster I was expecting this to be a drama but someone told me it was a comedy so I'm even more intrigued.

For Body And Light Presents: Bear Dreams

I saw For Body And Light's previous show in Edmonton last year and caught a preview of this one at the opening event. I'm not typically a "dance" person but the use of mask, live music and poetry has me intrigued.

Grandma's Dead

It's Sam Mullins, one of the most affable performers on the Fringe who has consistently been playing to sold out houses all summer. He's trying something a little different from his usual storytelling fare and it always excites me when performers try something new. He also beat out Roller Derby Saved My Soul for a Canadian Comedy Award last year so I'm going to go sit in the front row and judge.

In Search of Cruise Control

Last year, I saw James Gangl's Sex, Religion and Other Hangups and thought it was the strongest, funniest and most polished one-man show I had seen in a very long time. It seems this one might be no different after not only selling out his entire run at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, but the entire holdover performance as well.

Kiss Around Pass Around

I still regret missing Miss Hiccup when she performed at the Ottawa Fringe a few years ago. I've heard great things about this one and I'm really looking forward to it.

A Story of O's

Tonya Jone Miller has had a lot of success with autobiographical stories like Threads which has been raved about across the circuit and won her an award for Outstanding Original Work this summer in Ottawa. This time she pulls from her background as a phone sex worker.

Village Ax

Sydney Hayduk is my manic pixie dream girl. It seems impossible to find so much heart in such a small frame, but there you have it. If there was only one show I could see at this festival, this would be the one.

***************************************

Sigh. There are more shows that have peaked my interest, from catchy titles to interesting premises. If I have a hole in my schedule or if I hear any great buzz, I may try to squeeze some of them in. Word of mouth is a powerful things and that's the beauty of Fringe. If you hear of anything, please feel free to let me know about it in the comment section below.

2015-09-10 13.36.16

As I write this, the Vancouver Fringe Festival officially begins tonight! Grab a program, grab some friends, grab me a glass of white wine if you see me around and have yourself a merry ole Fringemas!

 

Nancy's Must-See List at the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival (Part 1)

2014-09-05-19.40.32-2.jpg

I'm finally back on the road! After an absolutely lovely time catching up with friends and shows at the Victoria Fringe Festival, it was one tumultuous little ferry ride over to Vancouver. Actually, the ferry ride itself was fine. It was in the search and rescue of our missing luggage that the real adventure happened.

Smiles in the hours before we lost our innocence. Our innocence was in our luggage.

Everything worked out, as they do, and now we can always say "Well, at least it's not as bad as searching for our luggage at the Greyhound Station."

*******************************

But back to the reason you probably clicked on this blog link in the first place. Now that I am in Vancouver and I have my Fringe program, I have been combing through the list in order to see as many shows as I possibly can in my short time year.

Before I go any further, the usual disclaimer. I am not a reviewer, nor do I claim to be one. This list is my own personal list of things I look forward to seeing for a variety of reasons. Pick up the Fringe program and make your own awesome list of things to see!

The Shows I've Already Seen and Would Probably See Again So Maybe You Should Go At Least Once

I've already seen 16 shows appearing at this year's festival, which nicely fills up my gotta catch 'em all punch card. 15 of them I would recommend.

The Birdmann in Momentous Timing

Saw this one a few years ago at Zoofest in Montreal. It was crazy and kooky and put a big ole smile on my face.

Brain

A total stand-out show for me at this year's Victoria Fringe Festival. A beautifully crafted solo-confessional. As a former Canadian SLAM poetry champ, I shouldn't be surprised that Brendon Mcleod knows how to craft a beautiful turn of phrase and his delivery makes you feel like you are having a deep one-sided conversation with your best friend. Only 30 seats in his venue to get there early!

God Is A Scottish Drag Queen II

God in a power suit telling it like it is. Probably one of the funniest shows I have ever seen.

The Great Canadian Tire Money Caper

Another stand-out for me from Victoria. I saw Corin Raymond's previous show, Bookworm, three times. He's a glorious storyteller and I knew this one wasn't going to disappoint.

The Inventor of All Things

Hands down, this is my favourite of all Jem Rolls' shows. If you like his other shows, you are in for something completely different. If you hate his other shows, you are in for something completely different.

Keith Brown: Exchange

An incredible magician, he will have you yelling "Burn the witch!" before the show is done... or maybe that's just me... because I am an asshole.

Lust & Marriage

I met Eleanor O'Brien during my first tour to Winnipeg in 2009. Her friendship back then during a particularly difficult Fringe is one of the reasons I didn't quit. I saw her one-woman show at the Toronto Fringe this summer and I was absolutely charmed by her performance and her tackling of a subject matter that often remains behind closed doors.

Mars

Caught this one at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this year. I will see anything that has Jayson McDonald's name attached to it and you should too.

The Middle of Everywhere

I've seen every single show the Wonderheads have brought to Fringe. Their shows are always delightful and this one is good for the whole family!

Nashville Hurricane

My favourite Chase Padgett show! It's a beautiful, well-crafted story that just gave me all the feels. A darling on the Fringe circuit and, once you see it, you will understand why.

Peter n' Chris present: Here Lies Chris

Peter n' Chris are funny guys and their shows regularly sell out on that premise alone, but this one, while still hilarious, also packs a nice emotional gut-punch.

The Sama Kutra

Clowns. Sex. Directed by one half of Mump & Smoot. I saw their very first performance in Calgary last year where they won the Patron's Pick. I've been told they've made some changes since so I'll be checking it out again to see what they've cooked up.

The Seven Lives of Louis Riel

Caught this one ages ago at that fateful Winnipeg Fringe in 2009, so you can be sure I'll be back for a refresher this year. From Ryan Gladstone, the guy who brought you Grant Canyon, I don't think history has ever been this fun.

Sperm Wars

Jeff Leard has frequently been compared to a young Robin Williams and, once you see his show, it's not hard to understand why. An incredibly malleable performer, he will have you in stitches before the hour is up.

UnCouth

After her preview performance at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, Windy Wynazz became my very first Fringe crush of the year. Once you see the dance number in her show, she just might become yours as well.

*********************************************

Man, so much talent at this year's Vancouver Fringe and these are just the shows I've seen! Stay tuned to this blog for Part 2 where I give a shoutout to all the stuff I'm hoping will delight and surprise me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure Time!

4115485023_7825f12141.jpg

This post was originally sent out through my monthly newsletter. I won't also post the content here so if you are interested in getting additional insights on my adventures, feel free to sign-up!  

Hi friends, did you miss me? I spent my summer time in Ottawa working on grant applications. I took a little break from this ole newsletter, since there wasn't all that much to share other than "woke up, worked on a grant, took a Netflix break, worked on a grant again, did some acrobatics (as you do in your downtime), worked on another f'n grant".

Now September has rolled around and I don't know about you but I am ready for a new adventure. On the 1st, I handed the keys to my condo over to a lovely family and literally skipped all the way to my friend's car. I'm still in Ottawa for the next few days and I can't tell you how absolutely ecstatic it makes me to be crashing on a pal's couch. While I enjoyed the downtime in my home, I think I am much better suited to life on the road.

#hobokenny

My first stop will be in Victoria to catch the last weekend of their Fringe before heading out to Vancouver for theirs. For the first time in quite a few months, the documentary team will be reunited in person in Terminal City! Lots of meetings are planned as we work towards our goal of having a rough cut of the film completed by November 1st. And while Natalie and Cory work away at all the technical elements that come with putting together a movie, I will find myself a coffee shop office and keep writing more grants...

 

What our meetings look like. Natalie did not want me to take this picture. Oops!

Speaking of grants, I have to send a lot of love and special thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for offering me an Audience and Market Development Grantso I can attend Contact East in Charlottetown to pitchRoller Derby Saved My Soul. My mother is then coming to pick me up after the conference so I can spend some quality time with the family in Moncton. Yup, from one coast to the other in September!

So excited for this!

Stay lovely,

Nancy

 

 

I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Je remercie le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil  a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

 

 

Feature Image Photo Credit: abdallahh via Compfight cc

Vagabond Shoes

11254166486_a46df7ce1b.jpg

I'm ready for another adventure. It's been too long. While I've enjoyed a much needed rest in my lovely Ottawa home, I need a change of scenery. I will be heading out to Victoria for the end of their Fringe of September 4th and then head on down to Vancouver for their own festival and some work on the documentary. After that, I fly out to Charlottetown on the 17th for Contact East to pitch Roller Derby Saved My Soul and I will get picked up by my mom to spend some quality family time in New Brunswick until the end of September. After that, who knows?

A lot depends on finding a tenant for my condo. Are you or anyone you know looking for a short or long-term rental in Ottawa? I currently have a posting on Airbnb but it's cheaper if you decide to take it for the whole month or more.

My home has been a wonderful sanctuary for me and I know it will be for you too.

 

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/97411961@N00/11254166486/">Mike Gabelmann</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

Summertime Blues

6451061277_930606ba28.jpg

How appropriate that it's raining right now as I write this. It's been over a week since my last Fringe adventures in Toronto. I was just a patron, but I still felt like I belonged. Over at the New Ottawa Critics, Brie MacFarlane pretty much hits the nail on the head:

What is it about the Ottawa Fringe that feels so, for lack of a better word, magical and inclusive for ten straight days? And why are we all so dang sad when it’s over?

There's a reason many of us keep coming back year after year. I've finally come to the realization that Fringe isn't the thing I do and then go back to my real life once it's over. Fringe is my real life. The rest is just the stuff I do in-between. I try to take solace in the snippets of film I get to see from last year's tour while I finish off a few grant applications.

After almost two months of various guests coming and going, my apartment feels empty and quiet. Too quiet. I'm grateful for the flexibility I get in working from home, but it can become very isolating. I feel lonelier than I have felt in a very long time and yet it takes incredible effort to go out there and meet with people. I've forced myself to start working out with people, otherwise I just won't bother going to the gym.

I've consciously stopped drinking. It's been 10 days (only 10? feels longer) since my last sip of alcohol, which may be a new record. I don't know how long I will keep this up, but for now I'm telling myself just one more day.

I've been battling with fear, depression and learning to trust that I am on the right path. I'm meditating everyday now and walking more. Trying to enjoy my own company. I'm in transition. I know that and it's not a bad thing.

It hasn't been easy to shift gears into a slower pace. I'm learning to embrace it. The world is going to speed up soon enough anyway.

Photo Credit: caruba via Compfight cc