Greetings to all of you who chose to take a read here from time to time! I thank you! I also have to thank those who have opened me up to the twitterspere and are supporting me through those channels.
If you haven’t done so already please click the subscribe button that’s on the page. I’ve promised myself to document in a couple of different ways over the course of the next while but the blog will be where it will be rooted. Take this as the first instalment as I begin to document my journey to Victoria BC this summer. I’m looking forward to this summer as I prepare to perform as Crooks in the Blue Bridge Repertory production; Of Mice & Men in VictoriaBC at McPherson Playhouse.
It’s directed by Brian Richmond and the play is considered one of Steinbeck’s iconic tales that take place in depression era California.
The story is about George and Lennie and how their caught in a world of relentless work and little promise – they both joyfully aim into the universe to live off the “fat o’ the land”. The play comes from Steinbeck’s novella of the same name.
I’m looking forward to working with both Gary Farmer (best known for his co-starring role with Johnny Depp in Jim Jarmusch’s film Dead Man) and veteran actor David Ferry. Farmer will play Lennie and Ferry George. Other cast I’m excited about having the opportunity to work with are Brian Linds as Candy, Sebastien Archibald as Whit, Michael Armstrong as Carlson, Ashley O’Connell as Curly and Samantha Richard as Curly’s Wife. For a complete list of performance days and times, click here.
To be connected to the website for tickets or more information please click here :
This past January and February I had the wonderful opportunity to work on the rarely performed Eugene O’Neill play Hughie. The history behind the play Hughie is a short two-character play by Eugene O’Neill set in the lobby of a small hotel on a West Side street in midtown New York during the summer of 1928. The play is essentially a long monologue delivered by a small time hustler named Erie Smith to the hotel’s new night clerk Charlie Hughes, lamenting how Smith’s luck has gone bad since the death of Hughie, Hughes’ predecessor. O’Neill wrote Hughie in 1942, although it did not receive its world premiere until 1958, when it was staged in Sweden at the Royal Dramatic Theatre with Bengt Eklund as Erie Smith. It was first staged in English at the Theater Royal in Bath, England in 1963 with Burgess Meredith as Erie.
American playwright Eugene O’Neill suggested that his play Hughie was “written more to be read than staged”. That hasn’t stopped the likes of actors Jason Robards, Ben Gazarra, Al Pacino and, Brian Dennehy at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2008 from turning Hughie into a star vehicle. David Ferry has very eloquently left it open to be perceived as a “2 hander” by some thus far. Please check out what Toronto’s The Globe & Mail had to say about our performance online, still waiting to see the print though:
The journey of this particular production was interesting for me on numerous levels. On one avenue of my journey was having the opportunity to work with actor Michael Kash. Michael is as natural as they come. When watching this individual from the first day of rehearsal his fluid and flowing approach to character is one that I’ve seen that often. Michaels’ skill doesn’t sit in the seat of “let me wait and see” but he takes command of the journey of cause and effect. Michael is every actors dream in terms of a solid scene partner and dedication to being present.
Another avenue of my journey that I find interesting is working with David Ferry once again. For those who don’t know David, he was the first individual in Canada to travel the Canada to create a library of dialects that was sold in stores such as Theatre Books. David is also a Stratford and Shaw alumnae and the body of work goes on and on. David is always an interesting leg of a journey. At 61 David still wakes up to be at the gym for 6:30am. This workhorse maintains a level of out of the box thinking that gives high-grade octane to any production. Moreover, I also believe when the long days leading up to opening become tapped out of creative petrol, David finds a reserve from somewhere within to surge forward and pulls out some key direction that makes the production fly high. David has taken the Eugene O’Neill note of being able to see the Night Clerks thoughts and utilize surtitles above that provide the clarity required. Kudos to David for casting the roll of the Night Clerk as an African American, check out the video below to hear his thought process on making the decision.
The crew for this production is stellar. The equation of Mike Sereny, Joe Madziak, Thomas Neuspiel & Melissa Joakim and Leslie Humphry is one that comes from a dream. Leslie holds down the fort as our Stage Manager and is exactly what’s needed to make this production roll smoothly for the month.
Overall, I commend Michael Kash for stepping up to the table as a trailblazer in Canadian independent theatre. He maintains integrity, positive growth and definitive drive as a producer. Michael is aware of the challenges that stand before him as a theatre producer and never professes to know it all. Throughout the whole process Michael has always been grateful for the learning curve and is present on all counts.
It’s been a cool 10 years since my last journey acting on stage, David Ferry called me and I’m here. I got to say that I’m not impressed with the fact that not that much has changed in terms of Toronto’s support structures. Since I’ve been back I’ve noticed our production and it’s internal energy reminding me vaguely of my time spent in San Francisco where the creative energy was bubbling with independent innovation; theatre’s perfect equation for success. Unlike San Francisco, support from the media is a little sparse and lacking in Toronto. Media or journalists in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Texas represent themselves by reporting to the public to be aware of quality theatre for just being quality theatre. This is probably the one avenue of my journey that I wish I had a different feeling about. It’s like going back to a hometown after a while and when you notice some things have changed and some things haven’t. There are some in Toronto that would like to give the impression that it supports it’s artists but so far I see that support coming mainly from other artists and online publications, trust me, we’re grateful for that support. I guess I was hoping that the birth of the journalist while I took a moment away from theatre who would want to stand out amongst their peers and say “I broke down the door for that production”. It’s no secret that those with the majority of disposable income in 2012 are 60+. The majority of those individuals that I know of don’t read their news from a tablet or computer. Those that are 60+ still require and respect tangible paper; but this blog isn’t about me ranting by any means. The audience support that our production of Hughie has received after it’s first week is beautiful, we’re grateful for all who’ve come thus far please don’t stop coming. To all of those outside of Canada but still receive this blog, you never know what will occur!
VENUE: The Theatre Centre Toronto, 100-1087 Queen St. W.
DATES: Preview: February 7 Run: February 8 through March 3
TIMES: Tuesday through Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m.
TICKETS: Adults $25; students and seniors $20
Available at 416.538.0988
In taking personal time for myself last Friday night, I had the opportunity to take in a one night only performance by the exquisite Tabby Johnson. For those who still have Rick James in your music collection she was one of the Mary Jane Girls. For those who remember when Hair first came to Toronto and she was in the original cast. For those who had their children watch Big Comfy Couch she was there every week. ”I’m still doing my thang” emotes Tabby at the Flying Beaver Pubaret to a packed room and a crowd that appreciated the fact it was only one show.
Tabby Johnson resurfaced this night after what was noted to be a stellar shout-out during the Mimi’s Wake of a Party now known as Mimi-fest and her turn at her sister Molly Johnson’s gig at the Distillery.
In the words of The Flying Beaver http://www.pubaret.com “There’s nothing like a huge audience response from the many in attendance to inspire a gal to come out of self imposed hibernation!”.
I came straight from a meeting and had my computer bag with me and this woman says to me “Hey, nice purse”, I said “thanks” and found out later it was comedian Maggie Cassella. If you like the comedic style of ranting and raving, you have got to take in a Maggie Cassella show. Maggie warmed up the crowd in a very natural and organic way. As Maggie was about the leave the stage she came back to address another point and then proceeded to go into a short 4 minute comedy bit, the beautiful thing about it was she was funny and nobody minded they got a little more out of the evening.
Tabby started her show and combined with her stellar choice of band members her voice smoothly sought out the senses everyone and the room was in flight. It was almost dream like for me at moments. The sound of Tabby’s soulful voice can take you to a place of fantasy and starlight. Tabby’s voice takes her audience on a transcendental journey with each song and it’s lyrics. After the 4th song of the set I felt so good, I had a grin and as I was getting up to use the restroom and saw the faces of Billie Newton Davis and Art Hindle and wondered if I was dreaming. The room was small but large enough to maintain the comfortable intimate vibe that Tabby always invites when in her presence. You can’t help but do more than just listen to the lyrics of the songs, she makes you feel them.
I found it very fitting and almost serendipitous that on the day of the Royal wedding Tabby performed a one night only show in Cabbagetown. The Toronto Star has quoted, ”She’s a national treasure”, The New York Times is quoted by describing Tabby as being “Sensuous and humorous” to everyone who knows, she’s all that and then some. When Tabby hit the stage at The Flying Beaver Pubaret she brought some fabulous friends together and surprise guests that had everyone either doing a little dance in their chair or grinning from ear to ear. Tabby Johnson is the truth!
In the coming days I have been promised some pictures, once I see them you will as well. I will also provide a sample of one of her songs for you to feel the electricity that I shot that night on my iPhone. Sign up for the blog on this page and get updated as things get uploaded.
There are some who know of the musical landmark in the City of Toronto in the Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton area. The Chick n Deli was known as the spot during the height of Maple Leaf Gardens that everyone from Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Jeff Healy and Amanda Marshall all played in this room.
What started out as a room where you could see the likes of Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour or Ben Johnson on any given night just hanging out, the common denominator was music. I remember being 19 and working on a made for TV movie with Lou Diamond Phillips, during his stay here he decided to stay at The Rohampton Hotel at the corner of Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton, why he decided to stay there wasn’t the important thing the next couple chain of events opened up my eyes to some things. I would go to the Rohampton Hotel and play pool, it was quiet and great spot that had their tables maintained frequently. I worked on the MOW two days prior, decided to go play some pool and meet up with a friend to go downtown later in the evening.
While I was taking some shots and listening to music Lou and a friend of his walked into the same room. We started to chat and he asked where he could listen to live music that was low-key, he didn’t want to be in the downtown core at all, I mentioned the Chick n Deli which was one block south. I explained it was also a place where people just went for the music, no stargazing which he really appreciated. We played a game of pool and went over together. He enjoyed himself, nobody asked him to sing Labamba and he was happy about that but more importantly he came back whenever he came into Toronto, with his hat pulled down low and listened to the music.
To those who know what the room was in its day can explain how it was a breed of its own. Knowing that it’s closed now is one of those things that actually have music industry people talking and wondering what’s happening with live music in the city. When The Montreal Bistro closed I believe it was felt, seeing stations like Jazz 91.1 develop over the years has given people a sign that there are those that are out there that can appreciate a live band and the talents from within. Christopher Plock, Virgil Scott, Jim Casson, Peter Graham and Joe Renolds are still holding things down throughout the city and doing what they can to maintain the calibre of what flourished during the 70′s & 80′s. The Blackburn Brothers, Eugene Hardy, Chuck Jackson, Mike Vonfare, Joe Johnson, The Climax Jazz Band and others are still weighted anchors in the music scene and all can say they have played in the Chick n Deli legacy.
Kudos to all my comrades I met during probably one of the most interesting periods of my life while at the Chick n Deli. I passed by a week ago in a cab and saw the brown paper over the windows. Some have told me they have closed for renovation, some have said there is a condo going up and the Deli will be on the ground floor. Either which way it goes neither has been confirmed nor denied, what I saw made me reflect on all the talented people I’ve met from there and all the different supporting friends I worked with and met over the years in that room. Hopefully, once the condo goes up The Deli will live again but for now it will sit as a cool place to go and listen to music!
Tons of people have tons of Chick n Deli stories, last year I decided to pass by with a Panasonic HD (regular consumer cam) and saw one of the Chick n Deli staples – Steven Ambrose. Steven was performing with a quarter of a big band.
I had the wonderful opportunity to work on a shoot a couple of weeks ago as an actor once again. It was particularly fun as the young lady who played my daughter in the shoot is from a family that I believe are the uber example of 21st Century urban. The son, who plays guitar, is in love with his Stratocastor and his favourite band as a young dreadlock mohawk bearing “tween” warrior is Metalica. The daughter who hasn’t even hit teenage years as yet was educating me on the ”artistic trade” of a seamstress, she’s already making her own clothing and accessories, quite the young lady indeed. The parents are cool, current and revolutionary.
Definately a powerpacked family who are leaders in their own right.
I wanted to thank you for the support you have given me. For those who have voted and left comments I thank you!
The blogger “Your Big Break Critic” or YBBC has been the link to the judges and the overall e-host for this process. Last week YBBC posted a blog entry with a list with about 50 names of “notable mention”.
So I’ve promised to keep you in the loop so here’s the most up to date YBBC blog so you can really see what is happening.
I’d love your feedback whether you be viewing this on my blog, facebook page or the page website.
STATISTICALLY SPEAKING …
January 17 2010 by
Your Big Break Critic in Stuff to Think About
Hope you’re all managing to while away the long hours following the close of submissions. Of course, there are now more than a thousand entries online to keep you occupied, along with our Facebook page – or how about spending some time writing your next film? After all, a filmmaker’s work is never done!
And of course, nor is Your Big Break Critic’s. So I thought I’d share some stats with you, straight from our technical department:
1080 Your Big Break entries were received
The site has been viewed over 2 million times since launch
Over 250,000 visitors watched videos or read scripts on the site during the submissions period – that’s like filling the average movie theatre 1,000 times
The total time spent by all visitors on the site up to the close of submissions was 1 year, 9 months, 8 days, 11 hours, 44 minutes and 17 seconds.
That’s a whole lot of hours racked up on the site in just over a month. And as Edan Cohen pointed out on the YBB Facebook page, that’s also a whole lot of people who are prepared to drop everything and fly to New Zealand at a moment’s notice! But honestly, who wouldn’t?
Soon: more Filmmaker interviews, Kiwi Classics and Spotlights – oh, and did I mention? Somewhere in the midst of all that a bunch of judges will let us know which five out of the 1080 entries received will be heading to New Zealand in just a few days to take their films from screenplay to screen. How could I have left out a little detail like that?
– Your Big Break Critic
Amidst a good 7 000 people in the Rotary Complex we all heard the Minister of Industry speak with optimism and confidence. The general feeling as across this packed room was that Stratford Ontario will soon become a world-class city based upon their soon to be seen Broadband. I believe with what’s on the horizon it sums it up in this quote:
We peer so suspiciously at each other that we cannot see that we Canadians are standing on the mountaintop of human wealth, freedom and privilege.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau
One can explain how they love chocolate at that peak time of the month when it satisfies the soul. One can also embellish on the satisfaction one feels when you have been toiling and burning the midnight oil in order to get your passions of labour to the finish line of self set achievements, whether the finish line is set by a paycheck that changes the rest of your life or simply being able to say “I did it!” When can one turn and say “okay, that’s enough” or “its time to take a break”? To get down to either, whether it be explaining your yearning for chocolate or deciding to change your direction of your path you must always do it with conversation where there is support.
As we move towards to the end of the year this is usually the time of resolutions and in some cases evolutions if that is the choice you’re led to.
After years of film and television work at it’s crux of moving forward into the realm of not being allowed to think, I was guided to make a decision to change course and take a stance of alternative action for myself in “the industry”. It was not an easy decision to make. On one hand while moving around in the industry of film and television the type of work I was doing as an actor was challenged enormously. Hearing my peers speaking about the industry as if it was a lover with a personality was eye-opening. I took a quick right hand turn at the intersection of reason and reality. Here I was ready for a change and being in front of the camera seemed to be a challenge. Now a year later and I’ve been given an offer to return. With making this turn though to focusing on being a producer and be a “leader” I’ve had the largest internal change in my life so far. The change, which is still coming at me, occurs with a certain sense of ease when being asked, “what do you think?” Or “is this something you would be interested in?” or my favorite, “what would you like for us to do for you to be interested?” The main reason why I say it’s so interesting is that the common conception that most have is that actors are not supposed to think.
When my journey in film and television began, it’s drive was fueled with a general compassion of the arts and culture and the want, need and desire for doing what I could to fuel the passion of others to feel; not much has changed in that area. As I’ve told many of the people who have done workshops or classes with me within the arts, we are the diving rods for a higher powers feelings and emotions. Whether this means you are the props person who creates the new age communication device in the 60’s that has Motorola users in the 21st century flipping open a phone or being the actor that helps to bring the epic to life it’s understood that it all boils down to one individual being guided to create artistic majesty. When this happens teaching is crucial as “paying it forward” ensures the cycle of true love and gratitude are paid forward. Essentially, you can do more of the same thing. An example for those who may not be completely clear with the euphemism of gratitude and paying it forward:
“I love your shoes”
“Thanks my friend gave them to me, apparently the company only distributes them in the UK though.
It’s now up to the individual who commented on the shoes in the first place to do with the information as they wish. To hold on to the information would stop the chain of love. Some may be asking, “What are the boundaries?” or “how much do I have to give?” For those who are not asking about the boundaries maybe you should ask yourself why you haven’t as yet.
I can only imagine that the demographics taking in what I’m writing are vast, the primary demographic must understand, it’s never too late to begin paying it forward. The longer you do it, the better you may become with never loosing a step in self-preservation. Generally that seems to be the first thing people think they will loose but as simple as it sounds one cannot loose their labour of life with love to another.
Your labour of life will never be the same as mine nor will mine be the same as yours, so comparison is almost useless when measuring the levels of success with others. By this I mean to compare yourself to your friend who has just tripped into getting the job you really wanted and they have nothing to do with the craft is not the ticket. Looking at what influences that may still be in your life that may have held you back should be what your doing.
Paying it forward is common but your specific labour of life isn’t: it belongs to you. This spells out that the only one who can tell you whether or not it’s time to throw in the towel after years of trudging through the trenches is between you and whatever higher power you believe in.
I’ve mentioned my acting technique instructor Alan Guttman before, as his knowledge was insurmountable as he simplified the craft of acting to allow simplicity with character. Alan shared stories about how he helped and guided countless individuals like Mike Myers or Jim Carey. He helped to a point of their lives where they reset their own labour of life with self-love. If I were to share new stories with him of how people around me experience “not so positive experiences” or “the dark side of these individuals “ in the industry moving into the 21st century he would probably have feedback that gave insight that would urge you and I to consider his words for a little while. Alan as far as I’m concerned has been paying it forward for decades. This is an individual who was there when SCTV and Second City started and when you speak to anyone he’s worked with, bring up his name they in turn pay it forward and state the kudos he deserves.
Being one of Allan’s students the time of the passing of Mr. John Candy was pivotal in my career. I was blessed with the opportunity to be working prior to becoming one of Allan’s students. Mr. Candy had passed and Allan spoke to us about the importance of balance and support within what we do in the industry. He went on to explain that not everyone will agree with your choices when you make them but as long as you have your support around you and with you at times of decision it’s best to have them around at arms reach. This was crucial information for me as work in the industry from 1994-1997 was shaping itself at a rapid rate. The changes were somewhat risk-taking during that time as the Millennium was quickly approaching.
When it’s all said and done at every major juncture in life we become self reflective and wonder. Some can turn and say they “I did it!” When can one turn and say “okay, that’s enough” or “its time to take a break” that can only come from a conversation between self and your higher power. Whether your Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish never loose faith and always ensure to work it out.