I’m In a Play – Secondary Cause of Death – Theatre Thursday

secondary cause
(Caption: This is the face of a girl who slept for four hours during the daytime on Tuesday because she was sent home from work, and went on to kill it at the theatre that night. This is the magic that theatre does.)

I’m in a play!

Let me be real here – this is not a review for the play that I am in. Mostly because I think the show is pretty great but it is nigh impossible to be objective about a play that you are in. This also isn’t really an advertisement or promotion for the show that I’m in – I’ve been doing a ton of that on social media, even including a “tech week selfie” game with Claire since we always seem to manage to be in tech week at the same time. So, what is this? I guess it’s really more of an ode.

I can’t remember the last time I was so thrilled to be in a play – maybe when I did Scorpio Theatre’s world premiere of Blood of the Red Queen, had a role rewritten for me and knew that I was a part of something that was going to just take off? I don’t know… I’m always pleased to be in a play and I always love it (otherwise I wouldn’t do it), but this time I’m just thrilled.

Part of it may be that I was asked to step into this show to fill a role once they lost an actress after rehearsals began – I hadn’t met the director before so I did do a bit of an audition, though nothing like the ones I’ve written about before – and it’s always nice to be needed/wanted.

Another part of it may be that I’m really getting to stretch myself as an actress. I am playing the type of role that I often get cast in (lovely and graceful) but the process hasn’t been “easy” by any means, and I appreciate that. I swing towards bubbly when I act and I’m playing a character who is on the older end of my age range so there is absolutely no room for bubbly. The show also takes place in England in 1939 (and is very British murder mystery in feel) so accents are imperative. I went to U of C, I haven’t learned accents! But I can do one now…

I think the biggest part of it, though, is that I just feel like such a part of things doing this show. I am a shy person by nature (which people always seem to mistake for my being a bit of a bitch and not just rampantly socially awkward) but everyone in this show has just made such an effort to make me not feel like the “new girl” since Day One. There is a camaraderie in the dressing room that I haven’t actually felt since university (other than during Full Circle Theatre shows, but that’s really just me gathering my friends together and going “let’s make a play!”) and I love it, even when I just sit quietly and listen to everyone else. I absolutely trust every person on that stage to pick me up and save me if I forget a line. (Oh gosh, that better not happen… knock on wood!)

I’m in a play. And even though I am going on vacation the day after it closes, I’m going to miss it when it’s done.

If you would like to see the play that has inspired such gushing from me (and hear my sparkling dulcet tones), Simply Theatre’s “Secondary Cause of Death” runs until October 1 and tickets can be purchased by calling 587-575-656 or by visiting http://www.simplytheatre.ca Come see it. It’s worth it. (This is not a promotion, I’m just happy.)

Post-Show Blues – Theatre Thursday

post-show blues

For this week’s Theatre Thursday, I’m addressing what should be a crazy topical post, considering I closed a show less than a month ago. The Post-Show Blues… what they are, how to combat them, whether you even should… (Btw, I was just doing a little casual googling about this topic and apparently the Post-Show Blues are a thing in the fitness world too. It makes sense, but… who knew?!)

I’ve actually been putting off writing this post for a few weeks, because I’ve been waiting for the blues to hit. After all, I was just a large role in a super-fun show where I got to fight with a super close friend… shouldn’t I be singing the blues? But I’m not, and at this point I don’t think I’m going to. I’m cool with it, and I’m starting to think that maybe you don’t get them as much with age and experience, but I’ll chat about that below.

What Are They?
Honestly, the term “Post-Show Blues” is pretty self-explanatory, I think, but I’ll dig into it anyway. The Post-Show Blues are the malaise that you hold after your show closes, the general doldrums, the feeling of missing every beautiful and difficult moment of working on the show and all the beautiful and difficult people you did it with. The sense that your real life isn’t nearly as exciting as the rush of the stage, the lights and the audience.

High school kids feel the Post-Show Blues really intensely – in part because they feel everything really intensely, in part because the amount of shows they can do are so limited. Most teenagers can only do the shows at their school, which rehearse for a longer time period than the typical community or professional theatre, and there are only so many shows at a high school.

I know I really felt the blues while at university too, again because I was so young and because there were only so many options for shows I could be in. Now, there are so many different shows I can audition for (I mean, I get to be picky about what I audition for!) and there is always a new opportunity on the horizon. Yes, I will never do that one show I just closed again, in the same way, but like I wrote in Monday’s post, I’m beginning to accept that “nothing will be never-ending”. Every experience is fleeting so I have to accept them for what they are.

How Can I Combat Them?
Personally, I think I may have beaten my Post-Show Blues for good by accepting that experiences are beautiful, fleeting and there are always new ones around the corner (to quote myself, naturally).

So that’s a great thing to keep in mind – you can always do another show and it will be just as fun in a totally different way.

I also was running on so much adrenaline during my show, I was doing so many things in addition to the play, that when I was done I was just so ready to relax, visit with friends and kick back with the newest season of Orange is the New Black. My liver, pocketbook and sodium levels were also ready for a bit of a break. When the show is over, luxuriate in your free time and treat yo’self a little, yo.

My friend, Megan, who played the lead in the show I just closed, went straight from our show to writing and acting in her own play. I doubt she’s had any time to feel any blues yet either, though I’m sure she’s about due for a big ol’ crash once her current show closes… so I don’t know if that’s the best of solutions but it certainly is a solution.

Should I Combat the Post-Show Blues?
There’s always the opposite option too – lean into your emotions and really feel them. I once was speaking to one of my friends from the barre studio and she told me that the grieving process was like facing down a wave. You can run straight-on into a wave but it’ll drag you down and thrash you around. The other option is to dive into a wave, dive right under it, and you’ll emerge on the other side… a little wet but none the worse for wear.

Or maybe you could just write a blog post addressing them, just like I had planned to do. That works too!

Do you get the Post-Show Blues? Let me know in the comments section!

Sherlock Holmes – Theatre… Tuesday…?

Two Thursdays ago my mom, Bryan and I went to see the opening night of Vertigo Theatre’s season closer Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily. Normally this would be a weird time to write about it – the show is still on but it would only have a week to go so it may be hard to get out to see it. However, this show has actually been so well received (it just won a Critter award!) that it has been extended until June 18 (which incidentally is also the day my show closes…)

Program Image belongs to Vertigo Theatre

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily was a bit of a revelation to me. I’ve seen the team of Haysam Kadri and Karl Sine play Holmes and Watson before, and I’ve seen Haysam in a variety of roles over the last nine or so years… but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Haysam be quite so funny. He – and the entire cast, really – was obviously having a blast onstage, and the enjoyment is infectious.

If Sherlock Holmes isn’t necessarily your jam, you still may love this show because it is peppered with real historical Victorian London references and characters. Paul Welch’s Oscar Wilde looks astonishingly like the real deal and lights up the stage with his witticisms. The script tends to stick to Wilde’s more popular works for its referential humour so even casual fans will be “in on the joke”.

I can’t imagine that I’m in the minority when I say that I love clever humour that throws around cultural references. This past month of theatre in Calgary has absolutely fed into this love and I hope that it is a trend that will stick around for awhile.

And if you’re on the fence about Holmes at all, let me just say… I was offered a ticket to see it again last Friday and I deeply considered it. I decided not to take it though so someone who hadn’t seen the show could have the opportunity. Soooo…

(Please note: This show did just win a Critter award for Best Direction of a Play so that may increase interest in seeing it. You can get tickets by visiting the Vertigo Theatre website.)

(Double please note: I know today is Tuesday… Thursday is the day before my show opens and if I thought I was stressed before… At least Tuesday still alliterates, guys!)

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

Sometimes you see a show that takes you completely by surprise. For me, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) was that show.

I read it in university. I’m certain I read it in university – it’s a Canadian play. It was written by Ann-Marie MacDonald (yes, the author of Fall on Your Knees) in 1988 long before Fall On Your Knees. As director Kate Newby remarks in her Director’s Note, it explores a seemingly endless list of important historical, cultural and political themes. I apparently own two copies of this play. I absolutely read this play in university… and I don’t remember doing so at all, except a vague recollection that “this play seems kind of odd”.

My vague recollection is completely wrong.

This production of Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) (a co-production between The Shakespeare Company, Hit & Myth and the newly re-branded Handsome Alice Theatre) absolutely proves the common refrain that plays are meant to be seen and not read. The show is equal turns clever, thought-provoking and downright hilarious.

The production also lands on so many levels. Though Shakespeare fans will have a million “Oh! I get it! I’m so clever!” moments (much of the show is written in iambic pentameter and MacDonald skillfully weaves actual Shakespearean dialogue into her own), the absolutely clear intentions and communication on the part of the five actresses in the show coupled with adept physical comedy allows audience members of any background to enjoy the show.

Oh yes, did I mention? The cast of Goodnight Desdemona is five powerhouse female actors – a virtual “who’s who” of young lady actors in Calgary – who play everything from a Henry V style “Chorus” (Julie Orton) to a swaggering Tybalt (Mabelle Carvajal) to Juliet (Genevieve Pare) and Desdemona (Allison Lynch) themselves. (Each of the aforementioned actors plays at least three different characters and it is never any doubt at all who they are. Stunning.) At the centre of it all, is Ayla Stephen as Constance Ledbelly, an academic who falls into the worlds of two of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies as she tries to sort out the truth of the plays and the truth of herself. Ayla and I attended university together, so I’ve seen her play a dizzying array of different roles, but she really does shine when she gets to play a fish-out-of-water and lean into her comedic side. She, and, actually, all the ladies in this show, can communicate more with a facial expression than the average person can with a whole speech.

I generally wait until shows close to write about them, but in this case, I couldn’t wait. Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) runs until May 21, 2016 and absolutely everyone should go see it. I’ve done my best not to spoil any plot elements, but I genuinely think I could go see the show again tonight and enjoy it just as much as I did the first time even knowing how it ends. Tell your friends, get a girl (or guy) squad together, grab your lover or guilt your mom into hanging out with you and take in this show before it closes. Tickets can be purchased by visiting The Shakespeare Company’s website.

(Note: I was not compensated in any way for writing this blog post. I just really really liked the play and want everyone I know to go see it so I can talk to them about it.)

Theatre Thursday – Calamity Town

Thursday January 28 was an absolutely incredible day. Not just because I took the day off work, so I got to enjoy a leisurely sleep in followed by a morning on the couch with The Girl on the Train and a cup of my favourite “Read My Lips” David’s Tea. (And tried to take a very blogger-tastic picture of myself pouring my tea… go easy on me, I’m new at this whole thing!)

Tea StashPouring Tea I Guess

It wasn’t just because it was not only a typical sunny winter day in Calgary, it was also a warm, sunny winter day in Calgary.

Backyard Sunshine

It wasn’t even because I managed to carve out some time for the trip to Costco that I force myself to take every three months for the essential, super non-perishable bulk products that I crave. Yes, Costco was as crazy busy as always…

Costco Craziness

… and, yes, my shopping cart was a petite bit embarrassing…

Costco Shopping Haul

But, hey, there are some snap peas in there! And I always feel so incredibly productive and grownup when I come home with a full stock of toilet paper and frozen treats. And can we talk about some of the name-brand finds that will pop up at Costco out of nowhere? That day, Cucina (as in the delicious smelling soap that was once carried by the now seemingly non-existent Fruits and Passion) had a consultant on site and small booth set up. I was going to take a picture, but I was worried my excitement might make me look like a creep.

Anyway, why was Thursday so great? Because it was the opening night of Vertigo Mystery Theatre’s Calamity Town and, as a subscriber, I was off to see it with my mother and my brother! (Yes, I am very fancy. Obviously. And this is the reason I have always considered Thursday to be the day for theatre – we’ve been a part of the Thursday opening night crowd since I was in university.)

First, of course, we had to eat! We had a few errands to run before dinner so when the time came to eat, we needed something reasonably quick that would satisfy even my brother Kevin, the king of picky eaters. We briefly considered whipping into a Vietnamese place, but our last errand took us to the Fabricland off of Macleod Trail and once on Macleod, we saw the sign for Open Sesame and our minds were made up!

I absolutely love Open Sesame – it may not be the newest or trendiest of restaurants, but I have so many fond memories of hosting 19th birthday parties in the small raised loft area, having deep conversations in the tent-inspired bar or eating an entire huge dessert each with my dear friend, Claire, after the waiter expressed his uncertainty that we could do it.

Open Sesame Signage

Once we made our way through the elaborate wooden door and down the Arabian Nights-inspired staircase to Open Sesame (going up the stairs takes you to sister restaurant, Bolero, a Brazilian steakhouse), we were greeted by the special of the night – martinis!

Welcome Sign - Martinis!

I briefly considered a martini, but with all of my leisuring, all I had really eaten that day was two eggs on toast and I figured straight gin was perhaps not the best idea I had ever had. I selected a Malbec instead, while Kevin opted for an Aladdin’s Passion fruit shake.

Our Drinks and Chopsticks

Now, Open Sesame offers a range of Asian fusion menu items… but I don’t know that I’ve ever known anyone to order off the menu. The real star of the restaurant – and the whole reason you go there – is for their make-your-own-stirfry bar. You select a protein and a carb off their menu (coconut rice is a delicious and recent addition to the carb list), are brought a bowl and little paper with your selections marked, and then you hit up the veggie and sauce bar to design a delicious bowl of all your favourite things! (Their great chefs do the actual stirring and frying, of course.) I find the easiest way to put it together is throw every single vegetable you like into the bowl and then mix together 4-6 scoops of fish sauce and one of the spicy sauces. Easy-peasy and hits the spot every time… and I almost always have leftovers too!

Empty Bowl

I’m a failure at blogging and only took a before picture. My stirfry was too delicious and I was too excited to remember to snap an after. Just picture calamari and a zillion vegetables over coconut rice.

I was sharp enough to ask my mom to snap a picture of Kevin and I while we anxiously awaited our creations. On the other hand, I forgot that he was wearing the hoodie that reflects light like he is Iron Man, so he somewhat steals the show in our picture. (He’s also obviously very thrilled to be a part of this.)

Me and Kevin at Open Sesame

Once the food arrived, our table fell silent for a good 15 minutes while we eagerly dug in to our delicious meals. In, chat, eat, out… and all in an hour during the dinner time! We grabbed fortune cookies on our way out the door…

Fortune Cookies

… And it was off to Calamity Town!

Calamity Town Program

Opening night is one of the very best times to see theatre, in my opinion. There is such a buzz of excitement in the lobby and it is always thrilling to see the “who’s who” of the Calgary arts scene that comes out for opening. What would a Vertigo play be without Louis B. Hobson’s distinctive laugh following all the best moments? Or Craig Hall’s utterly charming welcome and thank you speech?

This year, Vertigo received an updated liquor license that allows patrons to bring their drinks into the theatre – as long as they are in a plastic glass – which is also all too exciting. No more trying to throw back a glass of wine or entire beer during a 20 minute intermission! (Oh yeah, and there are snacks after the show on Opening Night. Usually involving a cheese tray of some type. I’m not saying it’s the best part of the event, but it just makes a great night all the better. Their caterer rules.)

Back to Calamity Town. A world premiere script, inspired by Ellery Queen’s 1940 novel of the same name. Of course, it is always great to see old favourites including Tyrell Crews, Julie Orton, Jamie Konchak back on the Vertigo stage, but it was also such a delight to see Lindsey Angell back on the Calgary stage after last year’s Liberation Days. However, Christopher Hunt stole the show in his tour de force performance as numerous witnesses during the second act trial scene. (When does Chris Hunt not steal the show, though?… I may be biased. He taught us scenework during our fourth year acting course in university. But he really is so great!)

The greatest part of any mystery is trying to unravel the plot before the characters figure it out, so I won’t give away anything right now. Calamity Town is running at the Playhouse at Vertigo until February 21, 2016 – the theatre is tucked under the Calgary Tower so grab dinner and cocktails at one of the numerous restaurants nearby then enjoy an absolutely incredible night at the theatre. Love it!