Monday, May 31, 2010

Me Vs. Shyness: Part Ninety-First

Well, I don't know how many parts there are in that battle. But it's true, I'm shy. Although once people get to know me, they would probably never describe me as shy. A little quiet at times, but not shy. So... socially anxious? But isn't that the same thing as shyness?

I don't really know why shyness is considered to be a character defect anyway. But the point is, I've always been a *little* nervous around new people, and now that's rearing its ugly head. I suppose it's to be expected-- I mean, I am away from home and everyone I know, constantly meeting new people who will be reading my work and having opinions about it that, even though they are discouraged from sharing opinions about others' work, they will still have. So it's probably no surprise that, finding myself surrounded by seemingly confident, veteran Canadian theatre luminaries this morning, I felt a little shaky (ok, a lot shaky. Like, actually shaking shaky) about doing my intro in front of the group and talking about my work.

So my shyness doesn't stop me from going out into the world and doing things like buying groceries, or asking where to find a particular book. But I'll admit that it has make me curtail my social activities at times, because I'm so worried about not knowing what to say to people, or coming across as a loser or something. Which is a feature that I don't like about myself. But I don't really know too much about dealing with anxiety. I kind of assume it's a "fake it till you make it" kind of scenario. And the reality is that strangers find me perfectly pleasant, and even funny sometimes. The trick, of course, is to ask people questions about themselves. Works like a charm, every time. And, probably, not to think of all human interaction as some kind of job interview for the position of "likeable". Sometimes, people just don't like other people. Or they're jerks. Or some combination of those and other factors.

Sigh. Time for another confidence boosting mission, I think. Which is weird to need one, because people here are nothing but supportive and complimentary and excited about my work. So why do I have such a hard time with believing them?

Last night I was saying to myself that I was really looking forward to a summer of music and weight loss. Which begs the question: what am I, thirteen? Isn't that largely the same summer I wanted to have between grade seven and grade eight? Although to be fair, this summer I intend to be performing the music (sorry Bryan Adams Reckless! You had your time in the sun!), and I actually do need to lose some weight and get in shape. And after a year of planning things (weddings, shows, parties, trips), and being stressed out about things, I want to have an awesome summer of doing things I want to do.

I have the first reading of my play this afternoon. Apparently I will have to address the group at the start. Bleurgh! I'm off to prepare some brief opening remarks and try to convince myself that people will find my nervousness charming and refreshingly modest.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mountains + Massage + Room Service = Happiness

So I've been here almost a week, at ye olde fancy prestigious playwriting retreat. It has been fabulous. And incredibly emotional, and dismal and frustrating and amazing. So, all these things. And as I'm working to deadline to turn in script draft tomorrow for a reading on Monday, I decided to try and get some of the knots out of MY ENTIRE BODY, and to just hole up in my room eating a veggie burger, rather than traipsing down to the dining hall with the rest of the writers.

I've also had Center Stage on tv in the background for company-noise, but that's neither here nor there. I'm pretty sure it isn't influencing the current draft. But the thing is I'm SO TIRED. I always thought that the mountains made me sleep better, but apparently that wears off after a few days. And now I find myself sleeping for about 2 hours at a time, twice a night. That's 4 hours of sleep, people! I mean, no wonder I'm getting emotional at times.

That, and I had no idea how much the bullshit with that last workshop had affected me. So I'm looking forward to Monday, when I can finally put that workshop behind me. And then I have another reading scheduled for the end of the week.

I'm trying to think of something to do this weekend. I'm not feeling too social, and I'm in a small, small town. I was thinking about a movie, but my choices are: Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia, Robin Hood, and Sex and The City 2...


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ouch! Wednesday!

No, it's not a new feature. It just happens to be Wednesday, and I have an ouch-- I slept funny, and now I seem to have a bit of a pinched nerve kind of scenario happening in my shoulder. Good times!

The show is still going okay, if with small houses. I really think that if we did it strictly as our own production, rather than under the umbrella of this "independent season" group, we would have better houses. People have strange opinions about what constitutes independent theatre. And fair enough, I have seen some wanky crap under the indie theatre umbrella, complete with unneccessary-to-the-plot nude interpretive dance, strange and sudden tunefully questionable musical numbers, and just general stage writhing. Always with the writhing, these people.

Not that that should dissuade you from going to see independent theatre. You should. Because these are the people who don't have the huge budget, who are likely using their own money, who are forced to use their imaginations instead of their bankrolls. These are the people who are doing theatre because they really feel they have to. And I'm not questioning the integrity of people who have more money, I think that's great and they are lucky, and don't I wish I had a little more of that myself? But even though it's difficult and expensive, and no one comes, these are the people who keep doing it anyway.

Case in point: in the big theatre last week, there was a high school musical. I think I said before that in my day, you did your show in the gym and liked it. But this school, they rent out a hugely expensive theatre, have a full week of tech time, and a week's run. All the (mostly entitled, rude) kids are walking around wearing wireless mics. And the cost of renting those mics alone was probably well beyond my entire budget. And of course I guess there are no comps, and everyone's friends and family are kind of obligated to come and see their little darlings, so they probably make all their money back.

But still. I wanted to invite all those little Zac Efrons and Ashley Tisdales in for a chilling glimpse into their future in professional theatre. Yes, kids, my set is made out of cardboard boxes! Some of which came from the garbage! And we perform in front of as many as fifteen people! Many of whom forgot to turn off their cell phone, or who have a medical condition causing them to develop an undeniable urge to eat hard candies when the lights are turned off!

But I kid. Hey, I'm just proving that you don't need a lot of money to become an asshole. But it certainly helps.

I must confess I'm going to be glad when this month is over. It's been a bit of a stressful time. I'm feeling very burdened by the world as of late. I think a couple of weeks to just be creative in the mountains is exactly what I need. And to be honest, the fact that what we're doing isn't causing any ripples just means that I have the freedom to do what I want. It's pretty liberating, actually.

I have a couple of ideas already for some shows next year-- I just have to pay off this one first. And I'm still not done with my idea of doing a cabaret, even though my progress in singing has been incredibly slow. Perhaps there is a rip-off-the-bandaid element to doing it.

In any case, I'm off to find some tylenols. Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, May 07, 2010


And... we're open. It went pretty well, barring a few glitches that always seem to happen on opening night-- most hilariously when I threw a t-shirt (which I'm supposed to do), and took out a rather important set piece (which I'm definitely not supposed to do!). Oops!
We had a crowd of about a dozen people (sadly, not unusual for indie theatre), and I'm hoping we top that tonight, seeing as how it is Friday and all.

The space where we're performing is part of what would like to be called an "arts complex"-- we're in the small black box theatre, right next door to the large 400 seat house. Unfortunately for us, this theatre has been rented out by a local high school to perform their play. Which was surprising to me--granted, I went to an artsy-fartsy high school for the last couple of years of my education, but the school I went to before that you performed your play in the gym and you liked it! But I understand this is kind of a common practice now, the schools rent out this insanely expensive theatre to do the school play. And the end result is all these 16 year olds who think they're on Glee or something shoving past you in the crossover, rolling their eyes and saying "Excuse me! I'm performing in a PLAY." Or giggling and yelling in the crossover area immediately behind our theatre while we're performing our very small, intimate, QUIET show.

A friend who came last night said it was like our house was haunted by Gershwin, to give you an idea. And it's not just us they're inconsiderate of. I understand there was a little shoving aside of our audience as they waited to get in.

Kids, I'm not saying you don't belong in High School Musical. And I'm sorry if Miley Cyrus has led you to believe that you can make The Climb. I'm not saying that Randy would say "I don't know, that was real pitchy, dog." I'm just saying that when you watch the video of this production in a couple of years for shits and giggles, you may not be as impressed with yourselves. Just saying.

I think they play until Saturday.

I'm still processing the bullshit that was yesterday. I don't know what I want to do about that, so I'm just not going to do anything. For now.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Of all the passive-aggressive revisionist emails....

Did I mention I sent an email yesterday? I can't remember, and frankly I'm too lazy to go back and check, But I sent an email yesterday, to the AD of the theatre where I had a somewhat awful workshop. And it's not just me. Others who had the circumstances described to them agreed that it was awful. So I sent a brief email withdrawing my script from an upcoming festival. I listed my reasons. And I got this really long, godawful email back, which is either painstakingly crafted to be passive-aggressive, or is just pushing my guilty buttons or some combination of the two. I won't post it here. But suffice it to say that it implies that I'm some hysterical female who doesn't have the years of professional wisdom and experience that the sender has, and that implies none too subtly that he's the only ticket to professional production.


And I just kind of want to cry at the moment, which is a dumb reaction. Because I hate to think of anyone thinking badly of me, even if it is just passive-aggressive bullshit. And because I got that cold prickly sick feeling all over when I read it, like I'd been smacked in the face or challenged to a duel or something. And because I open tonight and I already have a good base level of nerves going on over that. And I really don't want to deal with this.

And I did, in fact, respond. To his accusations about my email. I said I was sorry if he felt I had "tone", and I had worked hard to make my email brief and to the point. And that I would respond to the rest of his comments at another time, once I no longer had a show to open.

And of course, in last minute issues, the FOH (Front of House or ticket-takers) which I have long been assured by our producing company were taken care of, are not in fact taken care of, and we are now scrambling to find volunteers.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Another Openin', Another Show...

Well, not quite yet. Opening is actually tomorrow night, and right now no one can say how it will go. Our Q2Q last night was a little uneven, and in fact, we're going to finish it later today before our tech dress.

For those of you who aren't theatre folks, Q2Q (or "cue to cue") is a technical rehearsal of only the cues... basically you take it from a couple of lines before the lights change or the phone rings, or whatever, and the stage manager and technical operators get to practice running the cue in the context of the show. The tech dress is a full-on rehearsal of the show with all technical components. It's like a performance without the audience there. (Although in some cases invited guests are allowed in--making it an invited dress).

I can't quite believe we're at opening already--at least now I know that however it turns out, it'll be done. I'd still like it to turn out well, though. More on this Friday morning, I suppose.

In other news, I still have to go for the blood tests my doctor ordered, because I am still continuously gaining weight FOR NO REASON. I'm feeling a little self-conscious about it. In fact, I kind of want to just chuck it all and eat crap for a week, since I'm going to gain weight anyway. But an unfortunate side effect of eating healthy for a long time is that a lot of unhealthy food will now make you feel gross and greasy. So fruits and veggies it continues to be!

Singing lessons are... frustrating. I mean some of it is from not going for a few weeks, and weird jaw tension from show-related stress. But I feel like I'm never going to get there. Like all I really wanted to do was get up and sing some songs for people and I still can't do that. Not even due to crippling fear, but to actual lack of vocal ability and consistency.

Oh, enough of my artsy-fartsy whining for the day. Think broken legs and French poop for me tomorrow night. (Note-- "merde", the French word for poop is one way of wishing show folks luck!)