Culture

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about a show that I was supposed to see almost two years ago – Vertigo Theatre’s Cipher.

vertigo theatre cipher
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Credit to Tim Nguyen.

Cipher was originally set to open just a few days after what almost everyone I talk to cites as the “start” of the pandemic in Canada. (March 13, 2020, if you were wondering. Though there were cases in the time leading up to this, March 13 is when everything really came crashing down around us.) And, yes, I had tickets to opening night.

Almost two years later on January 20, I had tickets to opening night once again. And, yes, it was well worth the wait.

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YYCEats

Oof, this post is going to be a late one going up. (Though… still on the correct day! It’s still going to be Day 21, which is the day it is supposed to be going up. Which makes me a success!)

Anyway, today I finally watched Tick Tick Boom, which I should have watched a month ago because 15 year old me would have been aghast that it took so long to watch a thing about Jonathan Larson, but life is life and here we are. I loved it.

I also watched Spiderman: No Way Home but I will say absolutely nothing about it because I understand very much that people have feelings about spoilers.

So, with all that nothingness out of the way, let’s move onto the penultimate beer of the Beer Exchange – Beer 11! Follow me through the cut, mes amis!

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Culture

Real talk time. I totally get that I’ve been writing about a lot of “going out and having festive fun” things so far this Blogmas. And I know that’s not everyone’s vibe. Maybe your going out comfort level is different than mine. Maybe you always prefer “home” to “not home”. Maybe you just need a little break because you’ve been out too much. Maybe you live where the air hurts your face.

We all have our own reasons to prefer to be at home. So, this week, I will be featuring activities that I’ve done at home this holiday season and ideas to keep your home time festive.

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Stuff About Me

Ugh. Really? That’s the title I’m picking for this post? “I’m Back, BAY-BEE”? I mean, I am back, this is a wildly accurate statement, but yikes on bikes! (Yikes on Bikes is also not a great thing for me to write… this is all starting to make me sound like I’m a mom who is not at all cool but thinks they are cool. Sorry, non-existent children.)

Okay, let’s start again.

I’m Back, Blogging Again!

(Using commas wildly since 1986.)

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Stuff About Me

Erin laying on a bed, engaged in reflection

On this day, this day just following one of the most reflective and challenging Yin yoga classes I’ve ever taken, and the last day of 2018, indulge me in a little bit of reflection. Let’s talk about how this year has gone by so quickly, as years seem to the older I get, but also how this single year feels like it has taken ten years to pass. Last January feels like eons ago.

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Culture


(“Two Gentlemen of Verona” Poster Image, as always, lovingly stolen from Theatre Calgary. Their site is always adding more incredible, informative material about their shows, please take the time to explore it.)

First off: I probably should have written about this show a month again. Actually, if I were really good at my job, I would have seen the show early in it’s run and written an actual review to actually encourage my readers to go see it. But long-time readers know that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here for ruminating on things for far too long and then vomiting my thoughts about important theatre onto this blog. And today? The #importanttheatre that I’m talking about is #ShakesBow‘s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.

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Culture

Wicked
Here’s a fun picture of the time I did Popular for a talent show thing in high school. In my defense, it was 2003-2004 and incredibly timely and not overdone at that point. Musicals!

I feel like sometimes when I write about theatre topics (especially some of the more serious ones like fear in theatre or auditioning for shows), the most important thing about why we do theatre doesn’t come across. Creating something is fun. It’s scary and exhausting and hard work, but it’s also fun. I find theatre especially remarkable because it is a collaborative creative experience, when so much creation is very solitary. Recently, someone commented to me they enjoyed doing musicals more than straight plays because they found that the cast bonded better during musicals.

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Culture, Life

First Theatre Thursday of 2018, ya’ll, and I’m treading onto some probably already well tread ground… fear. And Theatre.

You Mean Stage Fright?

Now, I don’t mean stage fright – I think most peoples’ minds immediately pop to stage fright when they think of acting, but it’s a totally different fear. “Oh my gosh, I could never do that, I’m so afraid to talk in front of groups!” you say. I hear it all the time.

Like a jerk (or like most actors), I’ve never suffered from that fear, though. At my day job, I take literally any opportunity to talk to the class… you need someone to give exam instructions? I’m your girl. And I’ll probably think I’m hilarious while doing it. That being said, I’m not going to pretend that I’m not nervous before I go on stage. Of course I am, even when I feel confident – I want to do a good job and I think when you stop feeling a little bit nervous about a big project, that’s when you stop caring about what you do.

Acting In a Play Isn’t Like Delivering an Exam Spiel Though, Is It?

You’re right, it’s not. I free-style my exam instructions like crazy, when I’m in a play we spent approximately 1-2 hours rehearsing for every minute that takes place on stage. Combine that with a lack of fear of public speaking, and you get nerves, but not fear… because all the big risks happened during rehearsal!

For instance, I’m in a show right now. (When am I ever not in a show, am I right?) Tonight was the first night that I put my script down and delivered my lines completely from memory. My script is my security blanket, I will hold it until the last possible second even if I’m not actually reading from the book in my hand. It’s a real crutch.

So, tonight I put the book down. And it was terrifying. I was anxious all day. Even though there was a support system – our stage manager had the script in front of her and I could say the word “Line” at any time, at which time she would tell me what line I had forgotten – I still didn’t want to do poorly. I didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of my well prepared colleagues who didn’t make the mistakes I made.

Obviously, I love to overthink things.

But I took the risk, I swallowed the fear and I did it. And it was fine.

So, What DO You Mean By Fear?

I may have tipped my hand by talking about taking risks in the previous section… but the fear in theatre is wrapped up in the vulnerability actors need to experience to be successful in theatre.

When you see an actor sobbing, screaming or laughing on stage, they truly go somewhere inside themselves that allows them to experience that emotion.

When you see a ridiculous piece of physical humour, the actor had to test out that physicality in rehearsal. They had to try something out, make a big offer and know that maybe this huge thing they were trying wouldn’t work. The thought might have crossed their mind that if it didn’t work, they would be embarrassed – or something deeper – in front of their colleagues.

No wonder actors drink right? J/k, j/k. (Maybe not j/k…)

In a good rehearsal hall, you take the risk. You make the big offer and if it doesn’t work, you make another big offer and keep trying until something works. It doesn’t matter because you know your colleagues are right there with you – you will just all keep working together to make the show amazing.

I’ve been lucky enough to always be in good rehearsal halls.

Ophelia in Shakespeare's Heroines
Culture

Vertigo Theatre - Wait Until Dark poster

(As always, poster image stolen directly from the Vertigo website. The volunteer ushers were super engaged last night and warning people about using their cameras in the theatre. And then I knocked my program onto the floor and it was almost gone forever – like, literally, a man almost stole it from the floor until my mom swiftly said “oohhh, thank you so much for picking that up, she knocked it on the floor!” so he stole someone else’s instead – and that was just way too much program-ness.)

Guys, I’m having all the anxiety about not blogging. The problem is, lately I haven’t really been doing anything new and fun. I pretty much exclusively go to Cibo or Earls during Happy Hour if I’m going to read a book and drink wine. I go to barre or yoga classes (I’m actually doing a challenge at Junction 9 right now and it’s taking up a lot of my time). I write a play with my friends. It’s a busy and fun life that I have, but it’s pretty repetitive.

So, I’ll work on changing that up for you, dear readers. And in the mean time? I have a play review!

Last night, I hit up the Opening Night of Vertigo Theatre’s Wait Until Dark. Those of you who have read my blog before will know that I can be a bit bratty when it comes to dealing with bozos, so you can probably guess that I love opening nights. Minimal bozos, just lots of members of the theatre community and theatre enthusiasts! (Also, there is usually food after the show. Last night I got to eat a soft pretzel and a shooter glass of Village Ice Cream’s Salted Caramel ice cream. It was awesome.)

I’ll start by being honest and admitting that I always get I’ll Be Back Before MidnightWait Until Dark and Gaslight confused. Which is actually kind of nice, because even though I’ve seen all these plays before, I never remember which plot elements belong to which show and it’s always like seeing a whole new show. Woo hoo! For the record, Wait Until Dark was adapted into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn and involves a blind girl and the criminals who try to take advantage of her after luring her husband out of their shared apartment.

I feel like my description of the show is super creepy – and the show is super creepy, in an environment-setting, suspense-building, slow burn kind of way. The play was written fifty years ago but it really does feel like a modern thriller. So, I think I’ve alluded to the fact that this play is produced fairly often and that begs the question – why see this production?

1) This is a new adaptation! So cool! I actually didn’t realize this until I was reading the program last night – because my reading comprehension is good, I guess? And I didn’t notice the words “adapted by” in anything I read earlier? Anyway, Jeffrey Hatcher wrote this adaptation, transferring the era from the 60s to 1944 and adding a few other twists and turns along the way. Pretty cool for any viewers who feel like they aren’t interested in seeing a story they’ve already seen – and the era change absolutely works. Admittedly, I get this plot confused with other plays so I may not be representative of a truly educated viewer, but for myself, at least, I wouldn’t have thought that the show didn’t originally take place in the 40s if I hadn’t read it.

2) This is the most Calgary show that ever Calgaried and it makes me so happy. Simon Mallet did his MFA at U of C right around the time that I did my BFA and he has put together a team of Calgary-based talent – people I know and love, including one of my former campers from the Pumphouse DDC in her professional theatre debut! I’m just so proud of this entire team and it warms my heart. (Yes, I’m even proud of the people I only know because I’ve seen them in lots of shows. Shut up. I feel like I know them. It counts.)

… I’m sorry I told you to shut up.

3) Anna Cummer is so wonderful as Susan. She really has to carry the show and she’s so sassy and spunky and wonderful. I spent the entire show rooting for her and knowing she could put it together and save herself… even when she wasn’t quite there yet. I can see how there might be a tendency to play this role as overly weak or tragic but it doesn’t go there at all. She is such a wonderful heroine.

It’s a strong showing from Vertigo Theatre. The show runs until February 19th and tickets can be purchased by visiting their website or calling (403) 221 3708. Do it, yo!