Thursday, February 23, 2006

Claws - Evaluation

"Miranda, that was nothing short of outstanding."

I did say that I would write about Claws, and I did say that I would write about how it went, and, well, to start it off, I thought I would tell the world about the best comment that I got.

As much as I enjoyed receiving it, I thought the comment perhaps a little too exaggerated. The plays is very well written, we did work hard on the play, and opening night was very successful, but, in terms of outstanding theatre, well, even I haven't seen that many plays that I would label as outstanding. Perhaps less than ten.

That being said, Claws went off without a hitch. The excitement and energy coming from my actors was electrifying. They were completely in the groove and were simply itchin' to get on stage! I could sense that this was going to be a strong performance; they weren't overly confident or overly nervous; they were simply buzzing with excitement.

I, on the other hand, could barely sit still in my seat as I watched the performance. I've never been so nervous for other people before, probably because I have never been a director before. It was really weird -- I was doing Paula's facial expressions and practically trying to figuratively hold both of their hands throughout the entire performance, even though they were on their own!

Laura as Paula and Dave as Jeff did an extremely good job. Everyone loved the cat, and everyone was scared shitless of Paula. After they came off-stage, I could tell that they had had a blast performing. His girlfriend and her parents came to watch the performance, and they all enjoyed it. Dad, Franziska, and I think even Baba enjoyed it.

Many people came up to me after the performance to congratulate me. It was a little surprising because I was under the impression that the director is often overlooked in these festivals.

I must say, I tremendously enjoyed my first directing gig. It was amazing creating this play along with three others. I thought that on opening night, I would want to jump on stage and act, but I didn't feel that at all. I couldn't have asked for a better cast, and all I wanted was for them to give it their all and have the time of their lives.

So, would I direct a play again? Definitely.
Would I choose another freaky Lezley Havard play involving an animal? You betcha.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sneaky Thrills

How often does one get locked inside a building?

Sure, we've all been, at one time or another, locked outside of a building for some reason. Sometimes we can't get into somewhere because it is locked, and we are stuck outside.

Seldom does it happen that we are seriously locked indoors. Of course, it does happen every now and again. Besides jail, there are those who accidentally lock themselves in their upstairs bathroom and need their father to rescue them from the window (courtesy of 3-year old M. Glen), there are those who nail the windows and doors shut to lock their sister in their house (courtesy of I. Bols), and there are those who have an uncanny ability to get into government buildings, especially the high security parts.

A few days ago, I was dropped off at Les Terrasses de la Chaudière building in Hull. It appears to be a government building that has various offices for different services, such as transportation, public works, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the like. Anyway, it didn't matter to me what kind of building it was at the time because all I wanted to do was go inside and use the telephone. I pulled on the door, but to no avail; all of the doors were locked. Darn. I looked around for other pay phones, but I couldn't see any. I was just about to trek a block further when a man was coming out of the building. I caught the swing of the door and made it inside. He didn't seemed fazed by that at all; in fact, he made sure I had the door as I walked in.

At first, I couldn't find a telephone anywhere. This building was huge, and there were gates and special doors everywhere, that you could only open with a card or keypad number. There were even small see-through gates there that looked somewhat like customs. Many of the doors were automatic.

Following signs eventually led me to the telephone. After making my call, I leisurely made my way back to the doors, not extremely keen to step back into the freezing wind. So, I got to the door and pushed. Nothing happened. It was locked. I went to the other door; it was locked too. What! I went to the handicapped door, tried pushing it, and it let out a piercing screech that scared the bejeezus out of me.

I jumped back, breathing quickly. I am locked inside. All of the doors are locked! Oh, come on, there must be a way out!
I turned around and ran back the way I came. I remembered seeing doors on the other side of the building; they must be not locked from the inside.

How very wrong I was! All of the doors were exactly the same as the others and would not let this panic-ridden girl out of this securitized government building. Oh yes, the panic was quickly settling in.

I started moaning on how on earth I would get out of this building, and why on earth was this building made to keep people in! I ran frantically around the building, looking for doors. Nothing was unlocked. I realized my search was fruitless; I would have to set-up camp here and pretend I knew what I was doing there in the morning when everyone would discover me there, huddled under a meeting table, snorting some of the powdered hot chocolate found in the lunch room.

I was resigning myself to my fate when I heard some commotion at the bottom of the stairs, where the front doors were. I made a mad dash to the entrance and saw a security guard there. My intial thought was that he had been summoned because of the piercing sound I had repeatedly made with the doors. I told him that I needed to get out and I couldn't. He asked me if I had a card, and I said no. Yeesh, who does he think I am... I mean, come on, a card to get out of a building?

Fortunately, he didn't seem mad or annoyed; using his card, he opened the door for me and let me out. Finally, outside and not caged in! I breathed a sigh of relief. Never again would I go into that stupid building at night. Actually, I doubt I would actually be able to.

Two years ago, I was dropping off a Canada World Youth portfolio for a woman who worked at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in Ottawa. Alanna and Andrea drove up to the door and let me out, and I assured the I would only be a minute. I went up to the front desk and asked if I could get in contact with the woman (who I have now forgotten the name of). They called her office, but to no avail; she wasn't in. I didn't want to wait around forever, so after standing around for a bit, I decided to find the mail room. She had told me that should she not be in her office, I should get my portfolio to the mail room. Realizing later, she probably meant to give the portfolio to someone to bring it there rather than bring it there myself.

So, I went on a search for the mail room. I saw various signs with arrows that read "mail room", so I followed them. The first door that I opened did say something like "Employees only", but I figured I'd be quick. Besides, no one noticed. The door led me into a long corridor. I sped walked the hallway, keeping my eyes peeled for any other signs. Ahead of me, I could see a heavy security door that you needed a number code and a card to open. As I got closer to it, I was thinking of what to do, when the heavy door swung open. Two guys came out into the hallway. I grabbed the door before it closed, and again, they seemed completely unfazed. I let myself in. I kept walking and eventually got to the mail room. The woman there looked at me funny.

"This portfolio is for Mrs. So-and-So," I told the lady behind the counter.

She looked at me strangely, "how did you get in here?"

"Well, uh", I stammered, "I just walked in."

She squinted her eyes at me. She looked worried.

"You can't go back the way you came," she told me.

"Oh..." She seemed seriously worried.

"You'll have to go through the back door," she said, pointing at the large delivery doors section.

"Oh okay," I agreed, not wanting to cause more of a disturbance. "But I can get this portfolio to Mrs. So-and-So?"

"Yes, yes," replied the lady, "I'll put it in her mailbox.

"Alright, thank you," I said. I quickly scurried out of there and found the doors that led outside. These doors brought me to the very back of this huge building, so I had to make my way around the building to get back to the car. As I was jogging back, I was thinking as to how easy it was for me to get into the parts of the building that was strictly off-limits. No wonder everyone can figure out secrets and get into buildings and steal stuff all the time; it's dead easy.

Being short, female, and having cute red hair probably helps too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Something with soul

My large, puffy, red thing that is traditionally called a coat is exceedingly warm.

I was standing inside the building, after finishing my mid-term, talking to another girl from my class. I was all bundled up, ready to go outside, when I ran into her. We talked for awhile, mainly about the exam and then about German theatre. She offered me a ride home in her fancy yellow car, so we were talking in the stairwell, waiting for her boyfriend to finish the exam, so we could all drive home.

Anyway, as I was talking to her, I could feel my legs start to tingle. Now, I don't know if you've ever experienced this, but it sure felt very strange. I wonder if this meant that my legs were overheating. That's what it felt like. My body was getting hot at an extremely quick pace, and I wondered how on earth my red puffy coat could actually be that warm.

I suddenly started to feel quite uncomfortable. I had to go outside. The mostlogical move would have been to take off my coat and hat, but my large back pack was weighing me down, layers seemed to be just piled on top of me, and I figured the damage was already done, anyway. I had to step outside.
So, I had to cut the conversation with the girl short, just because of my red Mr. Puffy. I held my breath, ran to the door, and breathed out in relief as I encountered the chilly night air.

There were very few people in my line of sight. I could see a girl through a window in the building next to the bus stop. I saw two guys in the distance on the sidewalk. But other than those few, there was no one around. I smiled; I could let it rip.

You see, I enjoy singing and singing outside is always the best because you can go as loud and as quiet as you want and learn to tune your voice and to try different pitches. You can let your voice crack, you can try singing with a growly voice or very operatic, and you can let your voice swim and glide.
That is, of course, if there is no one in your immediate area. If you do not care as to what people will think of a singing lunatic, then feel free to do it at your next dinner party or the next time you pump your gas.

So, I started singing, apprehensively at first. I kept whipping my head around, making sure no new people were emerging from the buildings. No one was. I sang louder. I tried singing in a raspier voice. I tried singing high, low; I tried mimicking a good singer from the choir. I was in the middle of a song when I saw a girl about to come out of the doors I had come from. I immediately stopped singing and suppressed my voice to a melodic hum. She came out of the building, I watching her surreptitiously, waiting for her to disappear into another building or quickly scamper off, so I could comfortably resume my singing.

She stepped into a car. Ah, there.

There was no holding me back now!

Listen baby
Ain't no mountain high
Ain't no valley low
Ain't no river wide enough, baby

If you need me call me
no matter where you are,
no matter how far (don't worry baby)
just call out my name.
I'll be there in a hurry
You don't need to worry

'Cause baby there
Ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you, babe.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Church experimentation

I, the almost self-proclaimed atheist, and Paula, the one who calls herself "spiritual", made our way to Lennoxville's Anglican church on Sunday morning, whilst our baptized Catholic stayed home and slept in. It is something that we started doing in our first-year, and now we try to fit it in whenever we can.

Every Sunday that we've gone to church here, we've managed to go to a different one every time. This is not too difficult for two reasons: a) there are quite a few churches in this small town and b) we do not, by any means, go every Sunday.

Our goal is to go to every church in Lennoxville; I think we're almost there.

Out of all of the churches we've hit, the Catholic one is our least favourite, followed closely by the University's Anglican chapel. The minister was energetic, and the chapel is very beautiful and ornamented, but we found the chapel a little too beautiful and ornamented and golden for our tastes. The real cincher was when we encountered a man there who latched onto us right away and practically told us to come every week. Needless to say, that scared us away, and we had to literally sneak out through the side door of the room where we had "fellowship" after the service just so he wouldn't see us.

It's neat to explore the town in this church hunt way. It seems as though Paula and I both have the same tastes when it comes to church and its community. We didn't enjoy the fact that we were barely noticed at the Catholic service. We also get a little freaked out when churches are lavishly decorated with practically everything in gold; we like simple, usually wooden, churches. We do not like being hounded and mobbed, like people looking for fresh blood. We like those who welcome, and we like the churches that seem to have a friendly community. Basically, what church is for us is a place where we feel the most comfortable and the most welcomed. Also, having a really good organist never hurts either.

It had been such a long time since we had done on of our church experiments/escapades. I forgot how nice it is. It just felt good being away from the student body and being among families and older people in a small, friendly community. This Anglican church was particularly friendly without being at all overwhelming. The service was very easy going, and there was even a skit done by young teens. All in all, this church experiment was quite a success, and we very much enjoyed it, and, of course, not excluding the particularly scrumptious "fellowship" after the service.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pain partout

I had a dream that I was directing a play again. Only this time, I was with the French director, Lucie. We were working together for some reason, even though I knew we shouldn't have been. I think I remember Corey-Anne being there. We were rehearsing in this big empty space, kind of like a high school gym, but carpeted in some areas. I think I was taking over Lucie's play and doing the directing for her.

I was suddenly transported to a dimly lit grocery store. I remember wanting to buy some bread. Perhaps it was for my play, but I can't really remember. Actually, this part of the dream may be related to the fact that I had to eat bread on stage for my last play. Anyway, in the dream, bread-buying became such a big ordeal. I found a huge loaf of bread that must have been at least my height, but I didn't buy it, even though I knew I was looking for something big. I kept scanning the aisles for loafs of bread to buy. I knew that I was going down the same aisle again and again, but I was sure that I'd come across something that I hadn't seen before, something that I liked. I kept walking down the aisle faster and more urgently, thinking that I was in a rush. Perhaps I was. I remember the bread quite distinctly: there was white powdered bread, there was dense, thin-sliced brown bread, and there was normal whole-wheat bread. I examined all of these breads variations very carefully. The lighting in the store was getting dimmer, so it was getting harder and harder to see the bread.

Dreams that are so concentrated on one insignificant thing sometimes give me the heeby jeebies.

N.B. The word "pain" in my title does not refer to the English meaning of the word, but rather the French meaning (translated to "bread"). Please do not confuse or I may have to suffer some consequences of concerned people.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My Future Housemates

Ever since I met Paula and Anna in residence my first year of University, we, including Andrea, have all wanted to live together. They are three superb and wonderful ladies, all whom enjoy the outdoors, unusual conversation, laughing, and, of course, chocolate fondue at midnight.

With a mixture of good luck and some persuasion on Paula's part, we have managed to land a funky four-bedroom house. We were elated when we heard that we would be renting the house next year. The house is full of character; it has a funky, green livingroom, an old-fashioned kitchen, a closet bathroom, four colourful, large, and erratically shaped bedrooms, as well as a huge bathroom upstairs complete with an old-fashioned bathtub. The river is very close behind our house, we have hippy-like neighbours, and we are only a six minute walk from the school.

And the best part of it all? Living with Andrea, Paula, and Anna.
Every day, I will love coming back to the house because it won't just be a house, it'll be our home; these girls make me nothing but happy and always get me thinking and laughing.
We will make our own house of love!

Here are some pictures of the lovely girls (aka Festering Green Pepper, Cheese, Garlic):

On another note...
Besides the usual google searches for "double negatives" and "Bishop's University" that make people land on my site, the next set of keywords are, "will there be a snow day tomorrow?"
Yup, and the poor soul must have been so disappointed to find out that I do not have the answer. I should redirect them to my mother.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lingering Annoyance

I am extremely irritated when something that I am trying to listen to or watch is being interrupted by people making sounds.
Although people making stupid comments and being loud throughout movies at the theatre is almost rage worthy, I am referring particularly to lectures or any kind of seminar.

Let us take for example my Malaise of Modernity class. Last week, at around half past, when there was still at least fifteen minutes left, half of the class began to pack up. So, you hear the pens being put into pencil cases, you hear books and binders being closed, you hear the shuffling of backpacks, you hear zippers being opened and closed, and you hear the rustling of coats. Then, they just sit there, watching the clock and constantly shuffling. It is unimaginable how much this annoys me. Why do people pack up when there is still time left? If you want to leave the class, then leave and leave the rest of us in peace! I feel bad for the professor who is up there teaching because I know he or she can hear all the sounds, and then they either feel the need to wrap up early or they will pathetically try to draw people back into the lecture, and it all begins to feel awkward. The worst thing about it is that this happens frequently; if not in this class, then in another one.

I think it is simply respectful to stay for the entirety of the lecture rather than somewhat subtly letting the professor know that you want to leave. If you want to leave or you have to leave, then do so quietly. Nobody is asking you to sit through the lecture; hell, if you people left, I am sure the other half of us would be a whole lot happier.

I mean, I would be very irritated if I were on stage in a play and people would be making noise, zipping and unzipping their bags, and shuffling constantly through papers. I know that it isn't quite the same thing, but I think the idea is similar. You have chosen to go to the play or lecture, so you should be courteous and respectful. Is that really so hard?

The next time I do any public speaking and am being continuously interrupted, I will step off of the stage, go into the crowd, smack the disturber and make a huge scene that will surely bring embarrassment to a whole new and toe-tingling level.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Theatreactiv Festival 2006

A rabbi and a priest making out
A paperbag princess
Several burps that were done "serenely"
A bilingual play
Four women disrobing on stage
Very comical skinny Ben using an exercise ball (I must find a picture of this!)
Three lettuce tattoos
A man who turns into a cat

And, yes, if you were wondering, the last one was from my play, Claws.

I'm not quite sure that I summed up the entire festival in those eight unsentences, but I think those are things that are worth mentioning nonetheless.

You are probably still thinking of the first statement -- a priest and rabbi making out -- since it was probably the raciest. Thanks go to Gordon's play, Lunch Time at the Russian Tea Room. I think this was probably the wackiest play of the festival. It was short, it was crazy, it was all over the place, and it was funny. I thought it perhaps too weird, but my Dad thought it was a great play. The priest and rabbi are a result of this famous Hollywood director's vision of a new play. She's trying to sell her idea to a timid playwright, but he wants nothing to do with it. She proposes an alternate suggestion: ten year-olds in leather. He equally refuses. The twist is that her idea of a rabbi and a priest falling in love actually springs to life, and both men make their way into the playwright's life. It ends with them sorting his laundry together. Kooky!

Minnesota Moon was about two guys, one who is a hick, one who is soon off to college. They drink beer, whilst talking about women, the war in Vietnam, and life. It is a funny and oftentimes touching play. This is the play where the actual stage directions (I actually read it) call for the actors to burp "serenely" or to burp "pensively". What with all the pop they consumed -- five cans for one, seven cans for the other -- it was not too difficult to do. I remember each time they would finish rehearsing or performing, they would both run at full to speed to the bathrooms.

My lettuce comment refers to the play, This is a Play. It is a play within a play, in which three characters, one of which was Andrea, are in a Southern nineteenth century play. However, all the funny bits happen when you hear their thoughts. As they are on-stage, they complain as to how much they dislike the other actors and the director and who they think of as their inspiration. For instance,
"I enter the stage with conviction, moving my hands in this strange way because my director told me so," and then you would see Andrea moving her arms in a wave-like fashion, looking really ridiculous, which makes the entire thing hilarious.
All three characters are extremely strong actors and worked very well with each other. Although on their opening night, their male actor came exceedingly drunk, they still managed to pull of the play flawlessly. However, I am sure you can imagine the mass amounts of worry and panic that were going on backstage. Good thing he had time to sing in the guy's dressing room as well as throw up a little before going on stage.

About the girls undressing? That play was called The Most Massive Woman Wins. It was about four women in a liposuction clinic, talking about their lives, acting out various moments that specifically relate to their problems with weight. My Dad was a bit worried that the play would be about four women standing around, talking about their feelings. The play was a little like that, but there was a lot more to it, such as the times where the three other woman would pretend to be a mother or friends in the fourth woman's life. The undressing part was only them taking off their outer clothing and revealing their undergarments. Although I believe the script is quite well written, it was really the stupendous acting that made the play shine. I was convinced during the entire time and never felt like the actors were simply "acting". They were four weight-obsessed women, and they really portrayed them marvelously.

Robert Munsch's Paper Bag Princess was adapted by Louisa, the director, into a play. This play finished off Night B, and what a way to end the night! It was a light, fun, interactive, and playful play, and it always made you feel good. I would like to make special mention to Stephanie who played the dragon. She had stellar performances for both nights I saw her. As an energetic dragon with a raspy New Yorkian accent, she couldn't have done any better.

Theatreactiv is always an amazing time -- through rehearsal time as well as cast and drama parties, I have met and talked with some really interesting people. We had two weeks and one day to put together a ten-play festival. At first, I was a little worried as to how we would be able to pull this off, but by having two-hour rehearsals nearly every day until opening and by having dedicated actors, then, hey, it's a breeze. The two co-ordinators were extremely well-organized, and the festival seemed to be virtually problem-free.

Wait, a minute here, what about the play about the dude who gets all feline?

That, my friend, needs an entry all to itself. be continued...