Monday, July 2, 2007

in love like that

There are times I fear celebrating inside happiness because I don't want to chase the joy away. There are better days when I am able to look around, shake my woolly head and revel in how fucking beautiful this life is.

Today I had a reading of a play I conceived of three years ago. Back when I first wrote it, I quite loved it. I shared it with some trusted friends and fellow writers- feedback was encouraging. In spite of this, I let one person's lukewarm reception cool my own feelings about it. I let it slide to the side and pursued other stories. I'm glad for the work I did in that time, but I missed this play like home.

Michaela Washburn, Craig Lauzon, Gail Maurice and Michelle Latimer are helping me bring it to what is should be. By blessed luck, the grant I snagged is being augmented through the generosity of VideoCabaret. Through their own indie contracting, we also get to have Andrew Dollar contributing in a technical advisory capacity. This team is so remarkable I feel like I'm in love. I actually feel swoon-y over this. This is my job. Fuckin... what?

Ever lucky, me.

The play is reading this Friday afternoon at 3:30 in the Cameron House back space. We would love to have people in attendance who are willing to engage in a dialogue afterward. The greatness of workshop comes from exploring what-ifs with many people all in the same room.

It is my aim to work on production in this way. How many shows have you seen that just fuck the dog all the way through? In my experience... most of 'em. Why oh why is there not a feedback process during a run? Is acting so bloody precious that we can't adjust, edit, change and improve once opening night has passed? I call bullshit. I know that we MUST do these things. So many shows with gobs of talent can be saved this way.

Egos have shaped a construct that make theatre garbage. Actors are trained that changes beyond opening are detrimental because directors have too much power. Directors don't want their work altered once it is out of their hands. Directors teach acting at acting schools all over the shit. Of course we learn this- it maintains their dominance. Directors should be more like conductors. Where is the first violin on a theatrical stage? Where's the g.d. oboe tooting out its b flat or whatever? Theatre is weird, man.

Actors, of course are rendered impotent by the system we have in place. Flaccid actors are welcomed into most rehearsal processes. Vacant people who can appear clever or void on command. Also desired are people who choose to shut down their own opinions for the sake of avoiding cubicles. Those ones can be puppetted easy peasy. Misguided egotism. Some actors would rather parade around in shitty writing and directing instead of making rent as barristas or busboys. How? How is donning arsehole in your field better than working in a job that the general public views as subservient? Isn't it insulting to your own field to enable drek? Isn't it nobler to scrape bruschetta from the plate of some restaurant patron than to serve up third rate theatre to a patron who might support work that you are proud to be a part of?


Directors have become such dictators that the collaborative methodology is a farce in most rehearsal halls. We fear claiming our own space. How many great actors enable shit work because they have chosen to stifle their own good sense to get hired again? Most of us, I think. The ones who do speak up are all too often written off as selfish, difficult people. Serving the story is seldom priority, and in my life, story is the core. The blood, the guts, the stink, the spit- all of it. It ought to be. We know this. Yes? The thing is the thing, other shit is not the thing.

Why have we castrated ourselves? Theatre is hard, but why pretend at subscribing to some structure of working in an effort to make it less challenging when we know that that sort of imposed structure makes for homogeneous work? One structure cannot be applied to any two plays. Must not. When one person is added or taken from a room the format of working MUST be affected because the energy in the room is affected. Why pretend it doesn't? And doesn't that deny the power of theatre? Live bodies in a room- THAT is the power. We ignore it in rehearsal. So fucked! Forced adherence to a system of working toward a strong piece is suicide. It is safe, it is succumbing to mediocrity.

I don't know how to do it right, but I do know how to do it wrong. There are loads of examples of that.

No surprise that this workshop of Mom's Birthday feels like love- I don't know how to get that right either, but I am surrounded by examples if how to fuck it up. Have done so myself. Many times. On a grand scale and in mini versions. Maybe in both love and theatre, we keep doing it cause nobody's figured it out yet.

I don't know. I'm glad to know that I don't know, really, cause if I knew I wouldn't have anything left to do.

Throughout my life I have periodically listed to myself "Things That I Know". That list doesn't change a lot:
1) I love my Mom
2) I pursue honesty
3) I love sleep
...and a few others that come and go depending on my state of mind.

I wonder at starting a list of "Things to NOT Do With Theatre-Making".
1) Do not censor questions
2) Do not cling to a final draft, allow for improvement
3) Do not be late

What would you put on there? Are axioms problematic either way? Absolute yeses and absolute nos?

I don't know. Ever lucky.