Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So where did we leave off? Well, we survived the festival and the pressure of being the 'flagship' production, even as our writing team disintegrated. I nervously lead a surprisingly well-received panel discussion, and soaked up the mixed reviews of our work. The overwhelming consensus was that we were clearly ambitious, but not altogether successful in the time frame or the execution. With such a breadth and scope of material to tackle, the play would have benefited from better research to replace weaker section and a serious reconsideration of our use of multimedia. Note to future collaborators: two days before you premiere may not be the day to start collecting and editing footage to play on your screens. Dramaturgy and feedback at a late stage like that was useless--I was frustrated because none of my notes could be acted upon, and everyone else was unsteady because they felt I wasn't giving what I should or could be.

In any case, it was what it was.

Elsewhere in the festival, you found the following:

*"Today's Special", adorable puppetry with food, right at the tables of the cafe. You could have been halfway through your lunch when a sideways glance would find Aya's like teabag giving birth or rowing fearfully away on a boat of chocolate cake.

*"The Bush and the Dog", a nomadic and silly performance that played equally well in empty classrooms, pubs, and the courtyard. Summed up perfectly by director Paul explaining his pitch in his French accent, "Well, you have zee bush and zee dog..."

*"No Expiration Date", a beautiful and evocative movement piece, exceedingly truthful about what we do to ourselves--and each other--for love. The lighting meshing with the glow of sweat on the performers? Sublime. The colors on their bodies? Subdued, neutral, and strangely naked. The undeniable? Vala's bruises after throwing herself against a concrete wall dozens of times in each performance...producing in me a wince each time, not to mention a familiar gnawing in my belly...we've all been here before.

*"Bisclavret", proof that good old-fashioned storytelling still exists. These girls (all girls, playing princes, werewolves, and anything else you can imagine) tackled the art of medieval lais, and struck a chord of intrigue and celebration with dancing, singing, and well-positioned candles.

*"Nothing to Declare", Colorful masks and daring costumes, incredible physicality. Three intertwined stories of immigration...perhaps spoiled by a large and unwieldy deus ex machina. Really makes you consider how to use masks to their greatest potential.

*"Furies", Stylish and clever. Entirely in black and white, based around an Edward Gorey plot and aesthetic, with a live cello, killer puppets, and one badass fight scene.

*"Remain", a site-specific event in St. Stephen's, a derelict church in Hampstead. Filled with light and imagination, not to mention the smells and sounds of life and texture. One memorable moment came when headed back upstairs through a darkened vestibule, where performers are curled into the ledges of stained glass windows just barely perceptible in the near total darkness...and one angelic voice starts singing a wordless a capella. Completely haunting. Also notable, Laura ascending the pulpit to do an impromptu tap number in the shadows. Proof that simplicity is key, work should emerge from the space more often, and also a grand example of what working WITHOUT a director---GASP!--- can accomplish.

*"One Man's Devil Is Another Man's God", Knowing what their intentions were went a long way toward appreciating this: 5 foreign women take on the cipher that is Sylvia Plath--her life, her work, her psyche. Gorgeous scenography in the form of floating books and silverware.

*"Hepworth", a one-woman show exploring the life of Barbara Hepworth. Sculpture recreated by the genius of one huge swath of white fabric that grew and changed as the woman herself did.

*"Heartbreaker", A mix of stand-up and sketch comedy by two of my favorite Canadians. Think self-referential drama school jokes mixed with an ongoing peek at Maddox Jolie-Pitt on a plane to Cambodia. He meets a girl, and I'll be damned if this show didn't show me moments of life and truth that I didn't know existed. They snuck it right in there among the comedy, those bastards. And they left you feeling absolutely jubilant about life when you walked out of there.

(*"Connect", yours truly in a limited engagement...playwright David and I prove that we have some talents outside of our usual roles. 5 minutes of displaced time, one boy, one girl, figuring it out...This was the extent of my onstage London career.)

A strange and wonderful collection it was. But I suppose I am partial.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Utter Confusion and my Impending Return

If anyone is still out there, I wanted to say that I'm on my way back. I'm battling my post-postgraduate ennui (the end of education? What the hell do I do? do I go for a PhD just because I don't know how to function if I'm not in school? Or do I bask in my delicious laziness--days of sleeping in, reading plays, watching project runway, and painting my nails?)...

Soon. I promise. Something thoughtful, relevant even. My brain is retraining itself.

Just one little mini-rant before I go:

Why is it that my MA now makes me overqualified for what I don't want to do and underqualified for what I do want to do? I can't even get a mediocre job to pay the rent. I swear to god those letters on my resume scare people. Help!