Friday, December 30, 2011

Outlook for 2012: Still Stage Crazy!

This weekend marks the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012.

This year, there were auditions and performances for the Diary of Anne Frank at the Palace Theatre and Chicago at McManus Studio. Rehearsals have begun for Treasure Island going up at the Palace Theatre in February and Jenny's House of Joy going up at McManus Studio in February as well. There has also been talk about Arsenic and Old Lace going up at the Palace and I am anxious to find out when the auditions are going to be.This year also was a quiet one for Maybles' Theatre Productions. Since producing Norm Foster's "the LOVE LIST" in 2010, there has not been another production. In 2012, we WILL have another production and you are NOT going to want to miss it!

"Miss. Twiddle and the Devil" and "Miss. Twiddle Meets an Angel" are two one-act plays written by Maurice Hill. They are light-hearted and pure fun. Before I get into some of the MANY pre-conceived notions and ideas surrounding these titles, let me explain why I chose this script for our next production:

In 2001, when I was in grade 8, I was asked to step-in as Assistant Stage Manager for a high school production of Miss. Twiddle and the Devil. We performed this production at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts in Brantford, Ontario for the SHAW festival. We won Best Actor and were nominated for Best Actress. We had an actor break his wrist during the dress rehearsal and he had to perform with his arm in a cast. The director, Rae Brown, was a teacher at the high school where it was performed and he showed me what a comfortable rehearsal space could and should be. All of the actors became close and confident in each other. Everyone built trust and the relationships that were made during those rehearsals lasted years.

Earlier THIS year, I started reading scripts online and at the library to try and find that perfect combination of characters and story to bring to life in 2012. I've always loved the script for "Miss. Twiddle and the Devil" but I was set on doing a full-length production as I did not want to put so much work and time into a half-an-hour show. Then, magic happend! I had a close friend of mine read the Twiddle script to have her opinion and, while she was researching the production, she found a second one-act play written by the same playwright and with the same characters which takes place immediately after this one! I ordered a copy of "Miss Twiddle Meets an Angel" right away and fell in love with it the very first time I read it. It was decided. These were the plays I was going to bring to life.

This was a play people could get excited about but I knew I wouldn't be able to pull this off alone. After producing one play before, I knew that I would need to find a small group of people I could depend on, confide in and trust to back me up and help to breathe life into these scripts. I am proud to announce that Amber McMitchell, Heather Heywood, Lisa DesGroseillers, Jenny Stapleton, Mike Ge and Trish West have all come on board to help with props, costumes, make-up, advertising, lights, sound and the production as a whole.

A very special "Thank-You" to each of you.

Now, let's talk about the "Devil" and "Angel" words in the titles. In a time when people strive to be accepting of all religions and beliefs, I think some people can forget to just 'chill'. These plays are not meant to convert anyone into believing in guardian angels or the devil. These plays are not meant to be taken as any form of preaching. These plays are strictly fun, light-hearted and are meant to entertain. Yes, there is strange chanting in the play. Yes, there is a battle (of sorts) between good and evil. Yes, there are horned figured dancing around in smoke - BUT - I cannot stress enough that these are tools of comedy and are meant to be laughed at. Nothing more.

For this production, I hope to have on board a cast of 11 actors who want to have fun, learn, grow and work hard to being the best they can be. I hope that my production team remains strong through my emotional ups and downs and times when life gets tough on all of us. I hope to build strong relationships between the actors as well as the characters they portray on stage. I hope that the audience leaves at the end of each night feeling light, entertained and satisfied. Above all, I hope that the actors finish the production feeling like they have learned something new, built new friendships and are more confident in themselves both on stage and in their lives.

Stay Strong. Stay Stage Crazy!

A Very Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jemmy Rathbone: Character Notes (Treasure Island)

In Ken Ludwig's version of Treasure Island, there is a character by the name of Jemmy Rathbone which I have the pleasure of portraying onstage at the Palace Theatre in London, Ontario in February 2012.
I was surprised to find little information about this character online. I only found two movie clips which were far away and out of focus.  I found a review which stated "the opening scene with all the pirates chasing Jemmy around the ship was action-packed" but that's it! I was unable to find a character background, history or even a description.
With the help of a book called "the Intent to Live" by Larry Moss, I have worked through questions and homework and created my own version of the infamous Jemmy Rathbone. I wanted to share these with anyone else out there who might be researching and preparing to portray Jemmy onstage.
I have placed the information I created into an 'interview' format with the questions being asked by Larry Moss directly from his book and the answers given by Jemmy himself.

O' course it toikes place on a bloody ship! It's rainin' and da wind is blowin' a good one and da thunder is louder then I e're heard it before. The waves crashin' against the side o' the ship tossin' us about.
Nasty, back-stabbin' swabbers they are. They be yer best mate one day and yer worst enemy the next. Best be careful who ye tell yer plans to or they be usin' it against ya in your weakest toimes.
They have the nerve to fink I'm a cheatin', lyin' pirate who took somefin' I didn't and was gonna partake in the riches wifout keepin' me mates in the 'know'!
Yeah...d'ere prob'ly roight.
Well I'm not sure what "REVERENT" means but I do know vat I'm a sneaky guy. I prob'ly fink I'm smarter than I really am. I can also tell ya dat I was on the streets as it were before I got me chance to prove meeself as a man o' the sea. To be straight wif ya - I'd prob'ly do just about anyfin' to get me hands on some gold 'r jewels of any koind.
I kant tell ye dat - I've sworn an oath to keep da secrets of the happenins which go about.
Well I kant bloody well tell ya dat either now can I?! ...unless you got a good 'mount o' gold yer ready to part with...?
Uh..I'm confused. Can you say da question wif different words or somefin?
Why didn't you just say dat in first ploice?! I was watch dat noight loike I am most noights. I wasn't tinkin' much but how angry da sea was and how the skies were makin' such a racket that it couldn't mean anythin' good was gonna happen anytime soon.
They don't! Nothin' good DOES come from that noight and don't wish to talk about it no more!
I already told yer that Larry, I want me some gold! But gold ain't any good to ya if yer dead so I guess I want to come out of this alive and able to spend me some gold. Go to port in me homeland and buy a drink or two for a special lady...or two. You know what I mean roight Larry? [nudges him]
You makin' fun o' me knees Larry?! So I ain't as tall as a normal man would be i s'pose but I be fast! Faster than the rest o' these bloakes on this ship! AND, lemme tell you somefin' else! I be the best fighter on this here ship as well!
Oh, you mean loike a theme song? I've always wanted me own theme song...lemme think...well I s'pose if I were a ballerina or somefin WHICH I'M NOT it would be the "Flight of the Bumblebee" but NO I be a sneaky little pirate with a lot of speed and talent with me fists SO, me theme song would have to be the song from the epic scene in Wizard of Oz when the witch sets the flying monkeys on Dorothy and her little friends. She had it comin'.
What the heck is ZAT s'posed to mean?! You comparin' me to an animal dere Larry?! Is ZAT what yer doin?! So I'm a bit like a rat but that don't mean I don't have feelin's and aren't sensitive to those kinds o' remarks Larry! This interview is over! You wanna see more o' Jemmy Rathbone you come see Treasure Island at the Palace Theatre in February 2012. I've enough o' this badgerin'!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Theatre Stress

So, you have an interest in Community, Professional or Alternative Theatre. You may have a full-time, part-time job or even no job. You may still be in public school or high school or maybe even College or University. You might live with a husband, kids or you might live with your parents or on your own. Maybe you volunteer at a home, with a festival or special events.
Now, let's see how we're going to balance these AND theatre.
Rehearsals in Community Theatre usually last three months from the first read-thru to opening night. Out of seven days every week for those three months, there are usually rehearsals 3-4 evenings and often an afternoon rehearsal on the Saturday or Sunday.
SO, hopefully  we are in a  job that we can book the time off ahead of time for evening rehearsals and that management is understanding of our needs.
Let's assume that your place of work (or school and after school activities) have been lenient enough to give you the evening AND weekend time off that you require to attend rehearsals. Now you're rehearsing Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. You're working (or attending school activities) Wednesday and Friday evenings and most likely Saturday during the day. This leaves you the time between work (or school) and rehearsals to spend with your family, clean the house and/or cook - that is unless you have someone else who can help you out in those departments.
So far so good. You work (or attend school) Monday and Tuesday during the day and attend rehearsal in the evening.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, you work (or attend school) during the day giving you the evening to either work or spend at home with your family or friends.
This leaves Sunday mornings free to spend with the family, maybe even enjoy warm breakfast (assuming you're not called into work for the morning shift). It leaves the afternoon free to attend rehearsals and the evenings open to enjoy dinner. Hopefully.
We are on a roll! We are on fire and so far everything is fitting nicely into place like a puzzle. Nothing is over-lapping. Everyone is happy. Your family is getting their time with you and you're not missing any shifts at work (or practices at school). Your director is happy, your family is happy and your boss (or teacher) is happy.
Now, since everything is working so well, you do the unthinkable.
You audition for another play...and you get the part.
So now, because you just couldn't help yourself, this is what your schedule turns into:
Monday and Tuesday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:45 and rehearsal from 6:30-10pm
Wednesday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:30 and rehearsal from 6:30-10pm
Thursday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:45 and rehearsal from 6:30-10pm
Friday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:45 and rehearsals from 6:30-10pm
Saturday: work/school stuff from 9-2, lunch/snack 2-2:45, rehearsal from 3-7pm and the evening to chill
Sunday: work/school stuff from 9-2, lunch/snack 2-2:45, rehearsal from 4-8pm and the evening to chill.
At this point, your schedule is slightly hectic and maybe the stress is starting to be felt.
But, we're not done yet.
I've left out the little fact that you don't drive, because you can't afford wheels, so you take the bus and it takes you anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get to any place in London, Ontario because we ALL know how effective the transit system is in this city.
I also left out that you don't only attend school and have projects, exams and homework BUT you also work 2 part-time jobs because in this economy, no one can get enough hours at only one job AND with 2 jobs you're guarunteed to have at least 1 job when either place of employment decides to "let you go" because your position is "no longer required with the company".
We can only hope that nothing "comes up" in our work or private lives like a surprise visit from the in-laws, a broken arm, buses running late (because that never happens) or a call from work asking you to come in to cover someone's shift. AH!
So yes, theatre can be stressful BUT it is not the time at rehearsals or the time needed to be put aside to memorize your lines. The stress comes from life around rehearsals. Theatre is a world all on it's own and as long as you dedicate enough time for loved ones, time to love and be loved, time to relax, breathe, eat and sleep - the rewards of theatre will be endless. The payback of hearing the applause of an audience or seeing a standing ovation after a performance makes the journey you took to get there, and the stress you endured simply dissapear.
The stress is similar to the situation of a woman who went through the hours of pain and heavy breathing during labour screaming their head off and calling the nurses and their spouse every bad word known to man, only to be handed their child and be so overwhelmed with joy that they istantly forget all the pain they went through to get there.
Remember: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" ;)
It's worth it.